Broken Bow Library Director Joan Birnie Retiring After 30+ Years

Broken Bow Library Director Joan Birnie Retiring After 30+ Years
Mayor Rod Sonnichsen congratulates Library Director Joan Birnie on her retirement along with her husband Dave Birnie on Tuesday, September 22.

BROKEN BOW—After more than 30 years of dedication, Library Director Joan Birnie is moving on to the next chapter in life as she prepares to retire from the Broken Bow Public Library. Birnie was recognized for her service to the library during the September 22 Broken Bow City Council meeting.

Birnie began her career with the Broken Bow Library as a library assistant in 1987, was hired in 1989 as a full-time librarian, became President of the Nebraska Library Association in 2005-2006, received the Excalibur Outstanding Public Librarian Award in October 2007, and played a vital role in the library remodel which was completed in January 2018.

Mayor Rod Sonnichsen presented a plaque to Joan and congratulated her on her retirement along with her husband Dave Birnie during Tuesday’s meeting.

The library (626 South D. Street) will host an open house on Monday, September 28 from 2-5 p.m. to celebrate Joan.

(L-R) Senator Matt Williams, Joan Birnie, and Lt. Governor Mike Foley at the BB Library

In an interview with KCNI/KBBN, Birnie said she appreciates all of the people who have made it possible for the library to be able to serve the Broken Bow community.

“It’s starting to be very real now but [I’m] very appreciative of their kind words and the recognition, and the acknowledgement of what the library means to the community and we—all the staff—really appreciate and enjoy the support of the citizens, and the city officials,” Birnie said.

Birnie said the local library has been lucky to be backed by the Nebraska Library Commission through the years which has provided continuing education and opportunities for Broken Bow to stay as advanced as other libraries across the country.

One of the shining stars of her career, Birnie told KCNI/KBBN, was seeing the fundraising, renovation, and addition to the building completed in January 2018.

“It’s a fabulous addition to our community and all the services that are offered there and I know Megan (Svoboda, Assistant Director) and Kim (Blackburn, Children’s Service) will continue to provide great opportunities for people of all ages to learn and expand and grow,” Birnie said.

Groundbreaking for the library addition project.

Another huge change Birnie was able to witness was when the library got its first computer!

“In 1989 when I started we got our first computer! And that was monumental. It was like bringing in something foreign. It was for the public, but it was Dial-up. It was on its own little pedestal with its light shining!” Birnie laughed.

Birnie added that one of her favorite things has been all of the people she has gotten to work with gotten to know throughout the years. As she turns the page into retirement, Joan said she does not have any solid plans but is anxious to work on some projects around the house and read more!

Due to COVID-19, the Broken Bow Public Library has temporarily changed its hours and is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The library board will revisit this topic each month and evaluate how things are going regarding COVID-19 and the number of cases in the local area. The library Facebook page features virtual programming for all ages.

Congratulations Joan and thank you for all you have done for the community!

“It is bittersweet. I love my job! You know, I’m very lucky for all these years I’ve gotten to go to work and really love what I do. It’s nice and varied; I get to meet a lot of people that I may not have had the pleasure of meeting. I’ve worked with wonderful staff, great boards, and it really is a dream job. It’s been my pleasure and I was just very lucky to be paid to do it,” Birnie told KCNI/KBBN.