Jay Rancourt

Wow! You really know how to give a girl a sendoff!
A year and a half ago when I told the board I wanted to retire in March of 2015, it seemed so far away I didn’t have to think about it. But now the moment is here, the fat lady is singing, and my feelings are all over the map. But mostly what I feel is gratitude for all of you in this room tonight, and for all these years I’ve gotten to work in Tamworth.

Some of you in this room were present at my job interview in 1999. You offered me the job and I accepted. Then I blurted out, “In five years I’ll be 55 and will want to retire.” One board member wondered aloud what was the point of hiring me if I was only going to stay five years. Good point. But luckily you hired me anyway and I got a chance to discover how much I would love this job. So I stayed on 16 years. The best 16 years of my working life.

I have grown to love and respect this community. Tamworth is a community that pulls together. A year or two after I was hired as director, I read a book called Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam. The title, Bowling Alone, is a metaphor for the unraveling of social bonds in a community, “the depletion of social capital” as Putnam puts it. He posits that social bonds are the most powerful predictor of well being, for both an individual and a community. I was so taken with the ideas in this book that I spent a weekend with library directors from all over New England discussing how libraries could help their communities to increase their social capital. I went home inspired, but also well aware that Tamworth had never been and would never be bowling alone.

Bowling Alone is the reason the library has three meeting rooms. Providing meeting space was a way the library could help Tamworth’s many non-profits keep the scaffolding of this community strong. Over 70 non-profits in a town of 2800, right? Amazing. I would like to list the non-profits the library has collaborated with and hosted over the years. ArtsTamworth, TCNA, Tamworth Farmer’s Market, Altrusa, Brett School, Barnstormers, The Community School, Onaway, Tamworth Fdn, Caregivers, The Community Guild, 4H, Tamworth Historical Society, Remick Museum, The Lyceum, The UUs, Learning Circles, Snapdragon Theater, Wonalancet Outdoor Club, Parker’s Recreation Department, The Yeoman’s Fund and Katy’s wonderful Other Store. This is just to name some of the non-profits but by no means all.

Tamworth is stitched together so powerfully. The social capital here is abundant. It’s a community where everyone roots for everyone else.

Four years ago, the worst thing I could ever imagine happened when we lost our boy. I was so devastated by loss I very nearly quit, but it was all of you and your caring concern for me that brought me through. I will always be grateful that I stayed another four years amongst you. It has been a great privilege to serve this wonderful town as library director.

And there is the library community-
The trustees past & present who work quietly in the background to keep the library running well – you are far too unsung, but I know how hard and diligently you work.

The Friends of CML who work tirelessly and effectively on behalf of the library, augmenting our budgets and organizing fun events throughout the year. I am always impressed with your ability to have such fun while raising money like you’re minting it in the basement. You are a wonderful group of women and I am honored to work with you.

The volunteers past & present who pitch in to make the library better, you have been invaluable and great company. We couldn’t do what we do without you. A special shout-out to Ruth & Joan who have volunteered the longest.

And last is dearest to my heart, my staff. My staff hasn’t been like family. They are family. We have been a wonderful team, the most rewarding collaboration of my life. I already miss being with you.

Going forward into my retirement, my wish is that you will still consider me an honorary citizen of Tamworth. I’m not intending to go very far away, just to Madison. It has been both a privilege and a great joy to serve this town. I will miss being your library director.

Jay Rancourt
March 28, 2015

Jay’s retirement speech
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One thought on “Jay’s retirement speech

  • April 2, 2015 at 11:08 am

    I just wanted to add that I am very pleased to have such a great successor. Mary Cronin is energetic, highly competent, personable and forward-thinking. She will steer CML ably into the future. I have worked with Mary on various projects for many years and I hold her in very high esteem. She will serve the community of Tamworth with verve and skill. Best of luck, Mary.
    ….I meant to say all this on Saturday but forgot in the heat of the moment 😉

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