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Doris Lamica’s career at the Dalton Free Public Library has seen big advances in the use of technology in the profession.
Wednesday January 9, 2013

DALTON -- Doris Lamica is almost finished with the latest chapter in her book of life.

On Friday, she ends her 32-year career as director of the Dalton Free Public Library on Main Street -- a career that started with flimsy library cards and ended with high-speed check-out systems.

"It’s almost like a small business when you’re the director," said Lamica, whose primary duties included keeping track of the library’s payroll, bills and finances.

She earned her master’s degree in library science from Simmons College in 1972. Her first professional job was at the Boston Public Library in 1973. But even before that, she was honing her craft.

"I used to play ‘librarian,’ " Lamica said. "I had cards in books, and friends had to check them out, and I’d stamp them."

Over the course of Lamica’s 32-year tenure as library director, a more digital approach replaced the way the Dalton Free Public Library operated, Its circulation system and catalogue are now both online. Dalton is also now part of C/W Mars, a library resource and sharing service for Central and Western Massachusetts.

Lamica started around the time when paper library cards were introduced, which replaced the arduous task of patrons writing their name on a card for the book, then a librarian filing the card.

Dalton libraries also no longer stamp the due dates in the books.

"People didn’t like that because they’d lose the little slip with the due date, but it helps us save on carpal tunnel," Lamica said.

And more materials have been made available to check out over Lamica’s 32 years including large-print books, paperbacks, and a DVD library (previously, it was a VHS library).

"We used to have books -- that was about it," Lamica said.

On her last day this Friday, members Friends of the Dalton Free Public Library will help Lamica take down the library’s Christmas tree before treating her to lunch.

"She does a great deal of work and is a very caring person who cares about the people who go to the library," said Veronica "Ronny" Balardini, the president of the Friends of the Dalton Free Public Library.

Balardini has known Lamica for about 10 years, through Friends of the Library and the monthly book club that Lamica started. Two of the members of the book club gave Lamica a quilt, patterned to resemble a book shelf.

"She’s a quiet and unassuming person, but she does a great deal," Balardini said.

On Jan. 15, the Dalton Senior Center, at 40 Field St. Extension, will host a retirement reception for her from 4-6 p.m.

"She was a great asset to the town and to the library," said John Kittredge, the chairman of the Dalton Library Trustees and an organizer for Lamica’s retirement party.

Kittredge has been on the board since Lamica was hired as library director.

"As she matured, she became more and more adept with the library," Kittredge said.

Mindy Hackner, a librarian in Williamstown for almost 18 years, is the new library director. She crossed paths with Lamica for about two weeks during their transitions.

"I would keep all the things she put in place, but I also come with a strong electronic background," Hackner said. "I think a web presence is important.

"My biggest agenda item is getting to know the community," Hackner added. "I’ll be at the circulation desk a lot."

After Lamica gets her knee fixed, her retirement plans include traveling and reading Margaret Coel novels. Coel writes about mysteries on an American Indian reservation, one of her interests.

"I’ve left my mark on the library -- they have a nice collection of Native American books, Civil War books and baseball books," Lamica said.

Though Lamica planned to retire at 65 for a while, she said it’s also a good time to do so, especially after last summer’s library renovation.

"The building’s pretty well set, and things are pretty well organized," Lamica said. "I don’t feel like I’m leaving them in the middle of something. I’m sort of in a good spot to go."

Lamica had a difficult time recalling her all-time favorite, but did mention "War and Peace" and "Gone with the Wind" as two of her favorite books.

To reach Adam Poulisse:
apoulisse@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6214.
On Twitter: @BE_Poulisse