In June 1987, Gale Seamster interviewed for and got the circulation job at Patrick Henry Memorial Library. For 34 years, she has served the Brookneal community through her work as branch manager, and she’s retiring with many good memories and lasting friendships.
At first Gale was the lone employee at PHML, and the library was housed in the Brookneal Community building. In the summer of 1990, the library moved to its current building. The newly formed Friends of Patrick Henry Memorial Library fundraised and worked with the county to pay for the building and make renovations inside and outside.
Gale said the Friends group has helped the library tremendously.
“While many of the original members are not in the present group, their hard work and contributions and goal of providing the community with a better library still continues," she said. "They still strive to provide support both financially and physically to the library.”
The Children’s Literacy Room is one of the contributions that Gale is most proud of.
Just as the world has changed over three decades, so has the work at the library. When she started her job, Gale communicated chiefly by phone, and deliveries were made with the county bookmobile van.
With the advent of the internet and more computers in workplaces, library services became much quicker and the ways of communication changed. But the needs of the patrons remained much the same.
“The overall basic needs and requests of patrons have not changed that much from pleasure reading to the need for information such as medical, school reports, etc. but the ‘how’ of getting these materials have changed,” she said.
Gale has worked hard trying to meet the needs of patrons.
“The favorite part of my job has always been about the patrons," Gale said. "My heart has been with having story time for the children and programs that were fun as well as educational. I’ve looked for ways to provide services that helped the area whether it’s having the mobile DMV or hunter safety, tax forms, etc.”
Her service to the community was recognized 2016 by the Virginia Library Association in naming her Outstanding Employee.
Along with great service to patrons, she has helped to provide a welcoming space.
“PHML has always been a place of community service with a more easy going, not stuffy atmosphere," she said. "It’s certain that you will hear laughter and talking. No one is a stranger here.”
Gale credited the library staff and volunteers with making the library what it is. She also expressed thanks to people in the community.
“I’ve been blessed with continuous support from many individuals and the businesses of the town and surrounding area with prizes, volunteering, etc. I’ve called, I’ve asked, and I always received,” she said.
Though she’s leaving her job, Gale hopes the community will continue to make use of the library’s services, including free programs, notary services, tax forms, books and magazines, internet access, and printing.
“Just walk in the doors and ask for help,” she said.