BUCKFIELD — Graphic novels were the one genre that didn’t suit Joanne Douglass, but students read them, so she did too.

“Fantasy was never really for me,” the Buckfield Junior Senior High School assistant librarian said, “but I had a student say to me, ‘Why do you want to read something real? When I want imagination, I want to imagine.'”

Now, 36 years after she took the job, Douglass, 65, is retiring in mid-June. 

Douglass said she tried to read everything to appeal to students with varied interests. But the job was as much about maintaining a mental database of books to recommend as creating a space for students to flourish, as important as teaching respect or the joys of a silent, studious room. A library was just one way to do it. 

On Tuesday morning, she strolled the aisles between shelves containing about 5,000 books, including “East of Eden,” “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” and “Twilight.” She said she was excited to retire, a feeling akin to the senioritis soon to be kicking in for the school’s graduates.

Head librarian Maria Reinstein, 41, praised Douglass’ commitment.

“I can’t imagine coming in without her teaching me all the pieces that go together here. Even though I have a master’s degree in library sciences, you don’t learn everything,” Reinstein said. 

Retirement will be low-key: trips with her husband around New England and time to write poetry. 

Buckfield has been workplace and home for most of her life. She moved here when she was about 9 from neighboring Sumner and ended up staying, getting married and raising a family.

During a period of women’s coffee groups and recipe-swapping when she was staying home and baby-sitting, she saw an advertisement in the paper for assistant librarian at the school, applied and got the job over a candidate with a degree. 

The superintendent had a message for her. 

“He called me up and said, ‘This is not my ordinary choice because you don’t have a degree and I have a person who has (one). Although this man would do a wonderful job while he was here, this is interim for him, and I have a feeling you’re going to stay, and I think the kids in our community need continuity,'” Douglass said.

“He’s right. I stayed,” she said.

She thought about changing positions. She went back to school and got a general studies degree. The plan was to teach because there was more money in it. But she loved the job more than the money and it afforded her time to write. 

“I chose what suited me best,” she said. “I’ve been a part of their lives for so long, I would hate it if I walked into Tilton’s Market and not one of them knew me,” she said.

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