Eagle River librarian turns a new page

Sunday, July 30, 2017 - 13:42
  • Star photo by Kirsten Swann Librarian Deborah Trego on her last day of work at the Chugiak-Eagle River Library on June 30, 2017. Trego retired from the local library after more than 28 years of work.
  • Patrons and books at the Chugiak-Eagle River Library on June 30, 2017. (Star photo by Kirsten Swann

The last Friday in June marked the end of a long, beloved chapter for the Chugiak-Eagle River Library.

After more than 28 years on the job, librarian Deborah Trego cleaned out her desk and prepared to clock out for the last time, saying goodbye to patrons, coworkers and the library she loved. It was time, she said.

“When you get my age, you learn that things happen,” Trego said. “You have to adapt the best way you can.”

She decided to retire following a series of health issues, she said. She’d worked in libraries for nearly her entire career; first at the main library at Pennsylvania State University, then at the Eagle River library after moving to Alaska with her husband decades ago, she said.

Her favorite library memories were always the kids, she said, and her presence helped shape a generation of Chugiak-Eagle River children, according to library staff and patrons. Young readers grew up between the stacks, then returned to the library as adults with their own kids in tow. On Friday, some of them came to say goodbye.

“I don’t know that I would love books as much as I do without her,” said Brenna Nikii Rath.

Rath said she grew up going to the Eagle River library, back when it was still tucked above Garcia’s Cantina. The oldest of four kids, she said, the library was her refuge. She started volunteering as soon as she could.

“I was a little kid and they would let me go to work,” she said. “It was just my happy place.”

Living in Wasilla now, Rath said her visits to the library in Eagle River are far less frequent. But Friday was an important day, she said. Longtime library patrons approached Trego throughout the day to tell her goodbye, wish her luck and give her one last hug. Her coworkers were at a loss.

“It’s going to be very strange,” librarian Tracy Lewis said Friday afternoon. “I’m having a hard time leaving – I clocked out a half an hour ago, and I’m still here.”

Lewis had worked with Trego for 12 years, and known her as a patron for years before that. On Friday night, the librarians planned to gather for one final celebration dinner at Chepo’s, they said. On Saturday, life would go on.

Trego wasn’t making plans, she said. She said she wanted to organize her house and her bead collection and spend more time crafting. She said she was looking forward to relaxing.

“It’ll be different — I’ll probably jump out of bed and go, ‘I’m late for work! I’m late for work!’” she said Friday. “I know that’s going to happen a couple times, but I’ll get used to it.”

After what seemed like half a lifetime at the community library, Trego said she was ready to begin the next part of her story.

“You never know what’s going to happen,” she said. “I’m just taking it as it comes.”

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