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Ask a librarian: They live to help inform, for decades

Gwenda Hemingway is branch manager at the Horry County Memorial Library North Myrtle Beach after transferring from the Surfside Beach library. She was at the Surfside Beach library for 26 years and is taking over as Shelley Ridout retires on April 17.
Gwenda Hemingway is branch manager at the Horry County Memorial Library North Myrtle Beach after transferring from the Surfside Beach library. She was at the Surfside Beach library for 26 years and is taking over as Shelley Ridout retires on April 17. jblackmon@thesunnews.com

Three local librarians who have each booked a big chunk of their lives to their profession are embarking on new eras this month.

Sue Ellen Wilson, children’s librarian at Myrtle Beach’s Chapin Memorial Library, retires after 20 years of service there, and Jennifer Nassar will fill her shoes.

Shelley Ridout, manager of Horry County Memorial Library’s North Myrtle Beach branch for 31 years, including its move to a new site in 2011, also will take the retirement route.

Gwenda Hemingway succeeds Ridout in North Myrtle Beach, after 26 years heading the county’s Surfside Beach branch and commuting from Loris. Amy James will head the Surfside Beach site.

Each woman thought back briefly about the joy and longevity of their working in hubs, a central resource, of so many communities, libraries.

Question | What was that ultimate lure to build a career as a librarian?

Wilson | I’ve been a librarian for 38 years. I believe that libraries are one of the best community resources, and they bring communities together in a way that nothing else can. We are such a communications-oriented world. In libraries, we share all the resources with everybody in the community, and everybody has access to that. … I really love to share literature and books that bring children and teens to enjoy whatever they’re interested in. That’s what being a librarian means to me, because I believe so much in the power of what books, reading and other parts a library can offer.

Ridout | Some people make career moves; I tend to make career lurches. I started out as a newspaper reporter, and I worked at The Sun News twice. I was also a volunteer coordinator for a United Way program, a paid position, and I coordinated the volunteers. Then, the library job came up … and she knew I was an English major. … It’s been fun, and I’ve enjoyed playing matchmaker between people and things they might enjoy.

Hemingway | My first job was in a library, and I started working on my degree there. … I got my library science degree at N.C. Central University in Durham.

Q. | In more than two decades in that specialized field — amid the technology that continues to unfold — what has been the biggest revolution you saw in changing the everyday functions for, and value of, libraries?

Wilson | The Internet has changed our incredible access for information for everyone across the board. Libraries still have a role to play in helping people get the best information and how to get the information.

Ridout | The fact that we’re getting more and more public access computers, and being asked for more help on those computers. Part of it is we’re in a tourist area. We’ve had people do payroll from our computers, and people taking online tests here. You take your work with you when you go on vacation anymore, and you have to keep in touch.

Hemingway | Computers came, and we took out the mail card catalog, but we still use the Dewey Decimal System.

Q. | What makes libraries that continued community resource for people of all ages, something that nobody ever outgrows?

Wilson | Is is still a learning environment for everyone. Every person has a need to grow throughout one’s life. … Libraries are there, whatever age you are. With story time: You just watch children and how eager they are to learn. They learn libraries help us for that throughout all our years.

Ridout | Because it is that community space that we will carry on. Our function, the Horry County Memorial Library mission statement is, “Inform, empower, transform.”

Hemingway | Because we have materials for all ages, and we keep enhancing our material by getting new items and information hot off the press. We just keep adding to it. We don’t take away your knowledge; we add to it.

Q. | Leaving your current position this month, what will you miss the most?

Wilson | The people: our patrons, our customers. I call them my library family and our library friends. I truly will miss them every day; I’ve made wonderful friends.

Ridout | The people — that’s the most fun, although I’ve had to be a wildlife wrangler. A squirrel came up through the toilet in the old building, and a big hawk flew in when we had the door open for some fresh air. Then, in the first week since we moved in here, I had to remove a snake from the young adults’ room.

Hemingway | I’ll probably miss all of the patrons in Surfside Beach, but I’m looking forward to meeting new patrons here in North Myrtle Beach.

Contact STEVE PALISIN at 444-1764.

If you go

Myrtle Beach’s Chapin Memorial Library

Where | 400 14th Ave. N., Myrtle Beach, at Kings Highway

Open | 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays, and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays

Information | 918-1275 or www.chapinlibrary.org

Horry County Memorial Library branches

▪ Aynor – 500 Ninth Ave. Open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Fridays. 358-3324.

▪ Bucksport – 7657 U.S. 701 S., south of Conway. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays. 397-1950.

▪ Carolina Forest – 2250 Carolina Forest Blvd., east of U.S. 501. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays. 915-5282.

▪ Conway – 801 Main St. 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Fridays, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays. 915-7323. (Also, Friends of Conway Library spring book sale, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. May 2.)

▪ Green Sea Floyds – 5331 S.C. 9. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Fridays. 392-0994.

▪ Little River – Ralph H. Ellis County Complex Building, 107 S.C. 57 N. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays. 399-5541.

▪ Loris – 4316 Main St. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays. 756-8101.

▪ North Myrtle Beach – 910 First Ave. S. 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Fridays, and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays. 915-5281.

▪ Socastee – 141 707-Connector Road, between S.C. 707 and S.C. 544. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays. 215-4700.

▪ Surfside Beach – 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Fridays, and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays. 205-5280 or 915-5280. (Also, Friends of Surfside Beach Library book sale, 4:30-6 p.m. second Wednesday monthly.)

▪ Bookmobile – Based at county library administration, 1008 Fifth Ave., Conway, making rounds countywide at prearranged sites, 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, and 8 a.m.-noon Fridays. 248-1544.

More library system details | www.hcml.org

Georgetown County Library branches

▪ Georgetown (main branch) – 405 Cleland St. 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, and through May: 2-5 p.m. Sundays. 545-3300.

▪ Andrews – 105 N. Morgan St. 9 a.m-5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays; and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays. 545-3621.

▪ Carvers Bay – 13048 Choppee Road, Hemingway. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 1-5 p.m. Fridays, and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays. 545-3515.

▪ Waccamaw Neck – 41 St. Paul Place, Litchfield Beach, off Willbrook Boulevard. 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, and 2-5 p.m. Sundays. 545-3623.

▪ Bookmobile – Countywide routes; see schedule online.

More library system details | georgetowncountylibrary.sc.gov

Brunswick County Library branches

▪ Hickmans Crossroads – 1040 Calabash Road, Calabash, N.C. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. 910-575-0173.

▪ Rourk – 5068 Main St., Shallotte, N.C. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays. 910-754-6578.

▪ G.V. Barbee Sr. – 8200 E. Oak Island Drive, Oak Island, N.C. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays. 910-278-4283.

▪ Margaret & James Harper Jr. – 109 W. Moore St., Southport, N.C. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. 910-457-6237.

▪ Leland – 487 Village Road. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays. 910-371-9442.

More library system details | library.brunsco.net

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