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Bradley returns to the library — Long-time PES librarian takes on leadership roll at county library

by Mark Cheffey

The Marion County Library has a new leader with a familiar face.

Elizabeth Bradley, a long-time Palmyra resident, who just retired as the elementary school library media specialist, has taken on her new half-time position at the county library.  

Elizabeth Bradley is the new librarian at the Marion County Library in Palmyra.

After 20 years at the elementary school library, Bradley found she just couldn’t stray too far from the book shelves.

“I loved my years as librarian at PES and told everyone I had the best job in the world,” Bradley said. “Also, I wasn’t ready to be retired full-time yet.”

Bradley said the full-time library position came open in July, a month after she retired from the elementary school.

“I still wanted to work but only wanted to work part time, so I had free time for family and other interests as well,” Bradley said. “I applied for the job explaining that I would be interested if I could work part time.  

She started Nov. 18 and is working around 20 hours a week.

‘Right now I am familiarizing myself with the library and the duties of the director,” Bradley said. “There are many library organizations providing information through meetings and webinars.  

“There are also opportunities to participate in state grants and programs available to public libraries.  

“My goal is to learn more about these to help expand the resources of our library.”

Bradley went into the position already knowing the library was a major asset to the community.

“Palmyra is blessed to have such a wonderful resource in our community,” she said. “In addition to the amazing collection housed in our library, we are a part of a statewide consortium of 52 libraries.  

“This makes it possible for the staff to find materials for patrons even if we don’t own them in our library.  

“I have always felt that our community is so supportive of our libraries—public and schools—and they want to see our libraries flourish.”

Her early goal is to make sure the public is fully aware of what the library has to offer.

“Especially this time of year and with COVID causing more to stay at home, it is the perfect time to find that perfect book and read,” Bradley said. “There are also audiobooks and movies available.”

She and her staff are, of course, having to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Probably the biggest challenge is deciding how to stay open to provide materials to patrons while keeping the patrons and staff safe,” Bradley said. “There are guidelines that materials returned are quarantined for 3 days before being sanitized and returned to the shelves.  

“Currently we are operating with curb-side service only, but our staff has adapted very well and is always eager to help patrons find appropriate materials they want.  

“Just call in or email your requests.”

Even with the restrictions, Bradley said, the library is continuing its outreach to young readers with vitual story times and book talks and Zoom meetings with elementary classes.  

“This month there was a craft kit to make Christmas cards for the nursing home,” Bradley said. “Our Facebook page includes all the latest library news and activities.”

Bradley said she is grateful for the experienced staff she has to work with as she gets familiar with her position.

“They are always so helpful to the patrons who call,” she said. “They are very knowledgeable about the resources we have, and if we don’t have a title desired, they are always striving to get it for the patron.”

Bradley’s love for reading and libraries were kindled at a young age and has continued ever since.

“Growing up, my mom was an English teacher, so we always had books around the house,” Bradley said. “During the summer, if we complained that we were bored, she took us to the library to get books.  

“I can remember reading all the Boxcar Children and Little House of the Prairie books.  I especially loved historical fiction books.”  

Her “true love” for libraries came while working as a library aide for Mary Beth Lenzini at the elementary school. 

“She was the best mentor anyone could ever have, and she encouraged me to pursue education in the library field,” Bradley said. “I can never thank her enough for her advice and encouragement.  Being the librarian at PES allowed me to combine my love of books and teaching along with my secretarial skills. 

“I have always loved to read and learn new things, and it has been a way for me to relax,” she said. “I have always felt that reading was an important part of my children’s education, so we owned many books, and my girls even made their own play library in the basement.”

Bradley graduated from Knox County High School, Northeast Missouri State Univeristy (now Truman State University) with a BSE degree in business education and secretarial certification, and MU with library certification and a masters in library science.

She and her husband, David, have been married for 41 years and moved to Palmyra in 1986. 

They have two grown daughters, Angela (Chad) Lehenbauer of Palmyra and Sarah (Steve)  Everding of St. Louis, have three grandsons, and a granddaughter expected in March, and three step-grandsons.