Dover Public Library director retiring after 35-year career

DOVER — Just like the Dover Public Library is far more than just books, Margie Cyr has always been much more than the facility’s director.

She is more like the pseudo-mayor of a little community that gets together to take part in a wide variety of programs, she’s a voice people can talk to and she is the leader of a staff that she calls “her fondest memory of the library.”

Mrs. Cyr is retiring from her role as the director of the Dover Public Library — a position she has held for the past 11 years — and is closing the book on a remarkable and rewarding 35-year career as a librarian that started in Germany and had stopovers in Warwick, New York, and Old Bridge, New Jersey, before she arrived in Delaware’s capital city.

“It is a little community here,” Mrs. Cyr said, of the public library. “We have people that come every single day, we have people that we see once a month and people that we have never seen before — and we’ve enjoyed working with all of them.

“One thing I do want to say is I really loved this job and I’ve really loved working for the people of Dover. I think it’s a good thing to be able to retire when you still love your job.”

Mrs. Cyr began her library career working at a Department of Defense kindergarten through eighth-grade school in Germany.
It was there where she sparked her passion for libraries before she and her first husband were transferred back to the United States at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, where she attended the University of Oklahoma and received her Master of Library Science degree.

“When I started that (college) program I really thought that I wanted to be a school librarian because that’s where I started, in the schools,” said Mrs. Cyr, “but I realized really early in my classwork that my interest really lay in public libraries, because I liked the diversity of the audience and the diversity of the work that we did to serve the general public. That was really exciting to me.”

She said the first 10 years of her career she served as a children’s librarian and always thought that’s where she would stay.
However, an opportunity arose for her to go work for the Albert Wisner Public Library in New York as the library’s director. It was there that she found her calling and, in turn, changed her life’s goals.

In September 2012, Mrs. Cyr was in her fourth year as the director of the Dover Public Library when it moved from its previously smaller location on State Street to its current $20.8 million three-story site at 35 Loockerman Plaza. She became the library’s director in September 2008.

Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen was impressed at how well Mrs. Cyr and her staff managed the Dover Public Library transition seven years ago.
“Margie (Cyr) was tasked with transitioning from a small-town library to a major regional multi-faceted facility serving a diverse clientele and dealing with many social and educational challenges previously not encountered by staff at the other building,” Mayor Christiansen said. “She, along with her staff, worked to meet those challenges.

“Just as in life nothing is certain but change. The scope and use of the Dover Public Library will as staff changes continue to evolve.”
While Mrs. Cyr is retiring, assistant library directory Michelle Hughes is also leaving after she was offered an opportunity for a position that had been her career goal.

Difficult days
While moving into the spacious state-of-the-art new Dover Public Library might have seemed to be a joyous occasion for Ms. Cyr, she said it was a difficult time in her life.

“In 2012, my family life changed,” she said. “I think most families in Delaware have been affected by the opioid crisis in one way or another, and our family is no exception to that. In 2012, two of our grandchildren came to live with us. Interestingly, it was 10 days after the new library opened and it was a really hard time for me personally.

“My son is a heroin addict. He’s in recovery and he’s been in recovery for a while now and we adopted his children. It’s a life-long addiction, it never goes away. Every day is a different day and you just roll with it.”

Mrs. Cyr said that those two children are a big reason why she has decided to take her primary focus off the library.
“Those children are 11 and 8 now and they need me to be at home more often,” she said. “So, I’ve been working for 35 years and I’m eligible to retire and it’s time for me to do that.”

She said don’t get her wrong, she loves the current Dover Public Library building – just for different reasons.
“The building project was a very satisfying project,” said Mrs. Cyr. “It was very satisfying and very challenging, and it has been wonderful to see the building and its services developed to serve the people. But a library is not really a building. The library is the services that it provides and the staff that works to provide them.”

While the waves crashed around her in her personal life, the library was always a place where she could find fulfillment.

“Being in library administration has been really challenging and endlessly rewarding,” she said. “I think children’s services was a niche for me, but I found that ultimately for the long term, administration of public libraries was a more fulfilling role for me.

“I guess my fondest memory is what this library has been able to accomplish in terms of services and this staff that we have put on board to do that.”

Milestone moments
Mrs. Cyr said she has had “an amazing career” and wouldn’t change it for anything.

“There’s been some highlights,” said Mrs. Cyr. “I think the joint project that we did with the (Dover) Air Force Base when they closed their library and we moved all of those materials in here to disseminate them to the other libraries in the state, that was a highlight – that cooperative program with them was a real highlight.

“I think the Tuesdays in the Park program that we started two summers ago, that’s another highlight. I’m real proud of that and I think that needs to continue because it’s bringing the library out into the community.”

The ideas of Tuesdays in the Park and Little Free Libraries scattered around Dover got their seeds from Mrs. Cyr’s dual role in 2017-’18 as not only the library director, but the director of parks and recreation, as well.

One thing is for certain, Mrs. Cyr takes great pride when it comes to talking about her career — and the Dover Public Library.

“I think we’re a leader,” she said. “I think the Dover Public Library is a leader in so many different ways across the state. I don’t think that the general public really understands that, but we are one of the libraries that has the largest circulation of items, we have the highest use of computers and wireless use in our building, and we have really successful programming that brings people into the library and provides enrichment for them.”

Mrs. Cyr has also been a champion of welcoming the city’s homeless population into the library, as long as they followed proper library etiquette.

“We’re a public library and we provide services to all people without judgment,” Ms. Cyr said, in March 2017. “Socio-economic status doesn’t matter to us. Gender doesn’t matter to us.

“The only thing that we ask is that members of the public who use our building follow our Acceptable Behavior Policy. As long as one is doing that, they can use the building.”

The days are running short now for Mrs. Cyr and the library — it’s time for another life challenge. It’s one that she is looking forward to but will take several fond memories with her.

“There’s something every single day,” she said. “I’ll miss the people that I work with. The staff is really family and every single person on this staff is committed and creative and absolutely dedicated to the job that they’ve been hired to do. It’s been an honor to work with those people.
“One thing’s for sure, life is full.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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