Friday, July 15, will be my official retirement date after more than 24 years with the City of Corpus Christi.

This coming September would have been my 14th year at the Northwest Branch Library after 10 years at La Retama Central Library. I distinctly remember passing the five-year mark and thinking that was a minor miracle, to be able to have one job for that long when our local economy wasnít too different from the last couple of years. Ten, 15 and 20 years seem to have flown by.

I was shooting for a solid 25 years next May, but with the severe budget cuts that affected our library system, I told the library director in April that if it meant someone that would have faced a layoff due to a reduction in force could be moved into my position, I would retire earlier. He took me up on my offer.

The idea of another librarian finding a job locally seems almost impossible, and, since I had sufficient retirement benefits, I could step aside at this time.

As many of you know I have lived in the Calallen area since we moved here on Feb. 14, 1982. The northwest community has to be one of the best anywhere. You love and support your library, and because of that, it has been a joy to work with all of you as you use the library and have supported it by helping to move us while remodeling, raise funds for the unique mammoth exhibits, donate books, assist with programs and have volunteered to help when we have been short staffed (to name a few things).

Jean and I both apologize for failing to maintain a regular column the past two years. Changes have taken place that cut into our time for doing the extras we once enjoyed. You can expect more changes in the months to come as the budget is firmed up. The library administration has attempted to maintain good public services while cutting back hours, changing departmental functions and cutting staff.

While it will not be official until Aug. 1 (if nothing changes between now and then), you can expect to see all branches open from 10 am to 8 p.m., Monday thru Wednesday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday thru Saturday, with no more Sundays at the branches or La Retama Central.

Due to budget cuts and likelihood of shutting down the Interlibrary System as we know it will also see changes. The Loan Star Program provided funds that enabled our library system to provide free cards for anyone that wanted one.

You can expect to see a charge for library cards for non-residents of Corpus Christi starting on or soon after Sept. 1. How much it will be, I do not know. Previously they were $25 per year. There are plans to have a special card for those who only want to use the computers without a fee.

Your new branch manager will be Karen Van Kirk. She has been the cataloguer in the technical department for as long as I can remember. Some of you may have met her working the Reference Desk at La Retama Central on Sundays, or more recently at the Circulation Desk there.

I canít bid you a fond ďadieuĒ without adding a huge thank you to my staff for all they have done over the years, especially the last two years, when we have been short-staffed. I couldnít have achieved anything, nor done what Iíve done without their expertise and support over the years.

Keep reading and listening to books. I hope to catch up on Books-on-CD while I quilt.