After 38 Years With The Library, Our Maggie Nystrom Is Retiring – September 3, 2011

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sadly, this will be my last library column, as I will be retiring. My last full-time workday will be this Friday.

I have worked for the Humboldt County Library for 38 years, the last 16 of which have been here in Arcata.

I have very much enjoyed my work and all of the wonderful people I have met at the library, but it is time for me to move on to other activities.

During my tenure with the Humboldt County Library I drove bookmobiles, told stories, cleaned rest rooms, ordered books, answered questions, planned programs, answered questions, recommended good books and of course wrote this column.

It has all been so much fun that I do not understand why everyone does not want to be a librarian.

My first column appeared in the Arcata Eye in January of 1999. Since then I have talked about books, videos, puppet shows, the new online public catalog, the Friends of the Arcata Library and anything else about the library that I hoped you would find interesting. Writing these columns has been a joy for me.

Thank you, Kevin, for giving me this space and allowing me to share my love of books and libraries with so many people.

As the news of my retirement has spread people have been asking what I plan to do with all of the time I will have free. One thing I will be doing is substitute work here at the Arcata Branch and at other branches of the Humboldt County Library.  I plan to go back to college, maybe even try to earn a degree in history. I also hope to do some volunteer work that I have not had time for yet. One volunteer job that I am looking forward to is to come back to Arcata as a volunteer storyteller.

I have been doing some reading about retirement lately, and about aging and health. Several years ago the Arcata Foundation gave a grant to the Arcata Library to buy books and other materials of interest to the older people. Even though I was sixty at the time, I did not think about those books as having anything to do with me. This year I am very glad that we have these information sources as I have been making decisions.

For financial information I liked The AARP Retirement Survival Guide by Julie Jason. This is a good money management book for those who feel overwhelmed by the prospect of planning and providing for yourself and your spouse after retiring. The chapters on Social Security and on taxes were helpful to me right now, while some of the other chapters look like information I will need later. The writing is clear, and by close reading I found that I understood more than I thought I would. This is a good guide for anyone wondering if they can afford to retire, or any retiree who wants to increase their income.

Besides money, health can be a major concern of us aging Baby Boomers. Thanks to the Arcata Foundation grant, the Arcata Library has some good books and DVDs on health, exercise, and diet for those over 60.

One DVD I really like is Dr. Andrew Weil’s Healthy Aging. We have his book Healthy Aging, but this DVD is like going to visit him in his own home. Besides giving tips on bodily health, he discusses ways to remain mentally and spiritually healthy.

Dr. Weil urges us to reject the prevailing idea that growing older is an evil, but rather urges us to accept the rewards of age while remaining healthy and active.

James Autry’s The Spirit of Retirement is a non-prescriptive book, showing possibilities and using questions and exercises to help the reader find their own way. Autry explores the spiritual and developmental aspects of retirement, noting that people underestimate how difficult it is to switch from the working world to “the land of no boss.”  He uses the example of many Eastern religions, where life is divided into three parts; student, householder and sage.

Far from being the end of one’s life, retirement should instead be seen cheerfully as that “last one-third of life that no longer has the restrictions of the first two-thirds.” Alternating between the pragmatic and the spiritual, this is a fascinating book for anyone questioning their life.

Even when I am not around, the Arcata Library will go on. There will be a children’s story time on Wednesday mornings at 10:30 a.m. Share-A-Story will continue on the third Thursday of the month. In September it will be at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday the 15th. Look at the Arcata page of the Humboldt County Library website,, for more information.

If you would like a chance to say goodbye to me, and to let me say goodbye to you, come to the reception given by the Friends of the Arcata Library from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 9.

Maggie Nystrom has been the branch librarian at the Arcata Library, 500 Seventh Street, (707) 822-5954.

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