All good stories must come to an end, and so two beloved faces of Appleby Library said it’s time for them to bid adieu.
With a combined 65 years working at the historic library in Summerville, “Mrs. Kathy” and “Mrs. Betty,” as they are known to thousands of Augusta children, are retiring this spring.
Kathy Crosson and Betty Jenkins, known for their children’s story times, have nurtured generations of families. It’s not the book-lined shelves they will miss most, the women say, but the stories of each patron they served.
Jenkins started as a library assistant at the Wallace branch library in October 1973 and five years later moved to the Appleby branch on Walton Way. It was not a job she dreamed of doing, but she had three children to support. To her surprise, she fell in love with the library, especially working with children.
“I’ve seen so many families to bring little ones in, they grow up and go to college, get married and come back home,” Jenkins said. “Then all the sudden we’re telling stories to their children.”
Crosson, a New Jersey native, came to Augusta with her husband, who was in the military. She worked at the Fort Gordon library before a force reduction eliminated her position. She began working part-time at Appleby in May 1987 and though she was offered other jobs, she never thought twice about leaving.
Crosson, the branch manager, and Jenkins, a library assistant, see to regular duties at the library, reshelving books and helping patrons check out. Crosson and her husband tend to the grounds, pulling weeds and maintaining the garden fountain.
The conversations with patrons have kept them hooked on their jobs. The two greet each person who walks through the door, knowing most by name and receiving giant hugs from many.
“That’s what I love,” Jenkins said. “To know so many people, young and old, it’s like home.”
Crosson said some of her most memorable moments were helping students find research for school reports. Often, they came back to show off a good grade and say thanks.
Crosson and Jenkins are waiting on paperwork and meetings with supervisors to determine their official last day. They hope people come to visit in their final weeks so the two can see how they’ve grown since having them as children in story time.
“We want to say goodbye,” Jenkins said. “I think they will be a little disappointed that we won’t be here for their children’s story time.”
In retirement, Jenkins plans to cook and take care of her home. Crosson said she will travel and enjoy gardening. The two friends said they will consider ways to continue story time.
“We’re going to miss each other and we’re going to miss the people,” Crosson said. “We hope the Appleby Library still has the same feeling after we retire.”