A real Corowa-based favourite librarian has retired after 20 years of devotion to the region’s libraries.
Louise Parr (pictured above) commenced work as a part-time librarian in 1999 with the Corowa Shire Council working across the Corowa and Mulwala branches.
Originally from Broken Hill, Ms Parr moved to the region with her husband Bob and three daughters. They lived in Holbrook for 11 years before moving to Corowa.
“Working in libraries was a career I entered in my late thirties. I enjoyed working in libraries so much I completed my Diploma of Library and Information Studies with Honours,” Ms Parr told The Free Press.
In her 20 years of service as a librarian, Ms Parr has undertaken many different roles and responsibilities with the region’s libraries.
“In 2003, I replaced Ginnie Conroy as manager of the Corowa Library. At the time, the Corowa library was situated in the heritage-listed building once owned by the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Ltd, in Sanger Street,” Ms Parr said.
Ms Parr took on greater responsibilities with the closure of the Upper Murray Regional Library in 2015. The Corowa Council pursued membership with the Riverina Regional Library (RRL) based in Wagga.
“With the new RRL partnership, I was promoted to a newly created position, as Library Team Leader,” Ms Parr said.
“It was both a challenging and rewarding position managing three libraries. I was responsible for budgeting, planning programs, collection management, building and staffing issues.”
“On joining the RRL, the decision was made to refurbish the Howlong Resource Centre to include a static library which saw the end of the mobile library in Howlong.”
In May 2016, Ms Parr worked with the newly formed Federation Council library playing a pivotal role in the operation of the three library branches in the council region.
Highlights have been aplenty for Ms Parr in her career, including the relocation of the Corowa Library to the Civic Centre in 2012.
“The planning and design of the new Corowa Library was a highlight. Another exciting project was the extension and refurbishment of the Mulwala Library in 2016. We were fortunate to have well-known author Rosalie Ham as a guest for the official opening,” Ms Parr said.
While technology has become a big part of people’s lives, Ms Parr says the Corowa library has adapted well.
“When I first started in libraries in the 1990s, computers were being introduced, replacing the old card cataloguing and recording methods,” Ms Parr said.
“Libraries now offer eResources such as eBooks, eAudio books, eMagazines, and eMovies, which can be accessed, for free, from your very own home.”
Ms Parr said while libraries have changed significantly over the last few decades, their role in the community remains unchanged.
“Libraries are community spaces remaining relevant for the times. I have been passionate about the value and importance of libraries. They are safe, warm and comforting environments for everyone,” Ms Parr said.
While Ms Parr originally intended on retiring in April, coronavirus lockdowns meant that she had to finish up sooner.
“April 1 was the date chosen to finish work. At this stage, Council Offices were in their second week of lockdown,” Ms Parr said.
“The number 2020 looked like a smooth, round and balanced number. A good time to retire. What a year it has turned out to be.”
Ms Parr says that she is thankful for the wonderful memories that the region has provided her as a librarian.
“I have worked with many lovely people over the past 20 years. The ‘Friends of the Library’ has been a big part of the Corowa Library. I will miss them, the library staff, the council staff, and the patrons who over many years have become very special, Ms Parr said.
“Working in libraries has been more of a hobby for me. A hobby for which I was paid. Once I have settled into retirement in these Covid-19 times, I am sure I’ll be back as a volunteer.”
Federation Council General Manager Adrian Butler told the Free Press that Council was appreciative of Ms Parr’s commitment and passion for library services over the last 20 years.
“Ms Parr’s commitment and passion for library services has helped shape the outstanding delivery of Federation Council’s library service for many years,” Mr Butler said.
“Ms Parr is so well regarded among library professionals across the industry, and more importantly has been a much loved face behind the books at our story time for many of council’s youngest residents. On behalf of council, I would like to wish Ms Parr all the best for her retirement and sincerely thank her for her unwavering commitment. You will be missed.”