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Bridger Memorial librarian Faye Sykes retiring after 37 years

Faye Sykes has spent the past 37 years listening to the trains rumble through downtown Bladenboro, and once helped chase a chaos-causing squirrel out of Bridger Memorial Library. Along the way, she's made hundreds of friends and helped people find what they need.

When Bladenboro's branch of the Bladen County Public Library system closes Wednesday, "Miss Faye," as she's affectionately known, will retire from her job as a librarian that she's held since the summer of 1977.

"Thirty-seven years is enough," Sykes said with a laugh Monday afternoon prior to a reception held in her honor at Bridger Memorial Library.

"I'm going to miss the people," Sykes said. "A branch library is closer to the patrons because you get to know everything they like and what certain patrons want. I've had a couple of people say 'What am I going to do for books?'"

Susan Guyton, the children's librarian for the Bladen County system, has the answer. "You're going to have a job," she says.

"I have loved working with Faye," Guyton said. "I didn't know Faye until I came to work here almost two years ago, but I love working with Faye. It's like working with your best friend, and the people love Faye. When they come in, if they don't see her, sometimes they'll turn around and walk right back out the door because they want to see Faye."

Sykes, who is 61 years old, began working at Bridger Memorial Library in 1977 as part of the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) summer job training program, which was a federal program designed to train workers and provide them with jobs in public service.

"That first summer I kept the library open 40 hours a week," Sykes said. "At the end of the summer, somebody was needed to keep it open, (but) the town only kept it open two hours a day, five days a week. It was about a year later that we were given more time.

"It's something I enjoyed, and it's where I wanted to work. The guy that got me the CETA job said that it's the longest CETA job he's ever seen," she said with a chuckle. "They couldn't run me off."

Sykes has seen many changes during her career. Libraries in 1977 stamped cards that were put in the back of books to let patrons know when the book was to be returned and used a card-catalog system that was stored in small drawers. Today's libraries are wired for the Internet, books can be downloaded to E-readers, and patrons' records are kept on computer.

"Everybody wants to be on a computer," Sykes said. "The card system has got more advanced. You can download to the tablets."

Sykes also said the North Carolina Public Library system is hoping to offer a service beginning next spring where if there's a book you need elsewhere in the state that the library will pay the postage and send you the book, then you can return it to your local library.

In retirement, Sykes says she plans to help her niece with homeschooling and "I've got a friend up in the mountains that wants me to go see her. I'm just going to do some stuff that I want to do."

Will she still stop by Bridger Memorial Library, the place she's called a second home for the past 37 years.

"Susan, what do you say about that," Sykes says to Susan Guyton, the children's librarian.

"Yes, she'll come back," Guyton says.

Bladenboro's library patrons will be pleased to see her.


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