The Putnam Examiner

Retirement of Long Time Mahopac Library Director Celebrated

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Kaufman (center) and colleagues are all smiles last Thursday inside the Mahopac public Library. Jim Sparks Photo
Kaufman (center) and colleagues are all smiles last Thursday inside the Mahopac public Library. Jim Sparks Photo

With purple a prominent color throughout the third floor of the Mahopac Public Library last Thursday it’s no secret the selection of color was to honor someone who has been part of the library for the past two decades.

That person was Pat Kaufman, whose favorite color is purple and had a day dedicated to her last week for the work she’s done since 1988. An all-day event held at the library featured library Board of Trustees, staff, and community members celebrating everything Kaufman has done since she took over. Carmel Supervisor Kenneth Schmitt declared Oct. 10, 2013 “Pat Kaufman Day” with an official ceremony that morning.

Kaufman said she didn’t really want a retirement dinner, but more of an open house where residents could just walk in at anytime and say their goodbyes.

“That’s what this was all about,” Kaufman said.

Throughout her remarkable, circumstances continued to work its way out for Kaufman to continue to stay with library dating back to when she first got started.

Originally, Kaufman was hired on a temporary basis, but eventually landed a full-time position with the library in January 1989. After one worker didn’t come back, she was pushed up to reference librarian and the assistant director.

Shortly after that, the library director got into an auto accident and was out for six months and Kaufman took over that position. After the director decided she no longer wanted to work in that capacity when she came back, Kaufman became the permanent director and has held the job ever since.

“Quite frankly, this was perfect,” Kaufman said.

When Kaufman first moved to Putnam County after living in Massachusetts, she wanted to become an academic librarian. Her first career a long time ago was as a professor for anthropology, but with four children and moving to several different towns, that profession became difficult to keep up with.

She was a middle school librarian in Massachusetts, a volunteer librarian in Kansas, and circulation clerk in Pennsylvania. And there were times when Kaufman thought it might be time to move on from the Mahopac library, but the feeling was never strong enough to compel her to leave.

“Every time you think, ‘maybe I should look around,’” Kaufman said. “Something else happens.”

One big change Kaufman can point to is the building of the new library that was ready for use by 2004.

One aspect of the new library has been the meeting space it provides community members. Kaufman said many organizations are constantly meeting at the library. Residents, even in the 21st century come in to use the computers and many people also bring their own laptops with the better wireless Internet services.

And circulation has continued to improve, though less people are actually coming to the library and are instead looking up materials at home and picking up several books at once.

Kaufman plans on traveling and seeing her family, which is scattered all across the country. She also plans on volunteering and might even sign up for college classes.

And while Kaufman is retiring and won’t be at the library on a full-time basis, her face will still be around the community she’s become ingrained into.

“Absolutely,” Kaufman said, when asked if she plans on visiting the library. “Or I’ll just put my books in the book drop.”

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