The Renegade Rip

Longtime librarians retire

Bernie Rejon

Myrissa Johns, News Editor

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Two familiar faces on campus, Marci Lingo and Dawn Dobie, Bakersfield College reference librarians, will both be gone after the end of June. Despite the usual focus of retirement being on one’s own future, Dobie and Lingo have stayed true to their reputations of being student-centered by voicing mainly concerns for the future of the library and students.

“We’ve worked really hard to develop a great library program and a library that really serves students and serves the instructional needs of students,” Lingo said. “We just know that the library can’t continue to have that impact if we don’t have adequate staff, so that’s a big concern for us.”

According to Dobie, when the library staff was told about Lingo’s impending retirement, they were also told that there was no plan to replace her, which would be a 20-percent decrease in staff for the library.

According to Anna Agenjo, library director, it is unknown whether either of the positions will be replaced, but she has plans of a meeting with BC President Sonya Christian in which she hopes to convince her of the importance of the librarians.

Agenjo said the loss of even one librarian would force the library to reduce the number of research workshops, classroom visits, and an inability to offer any sections of English B34 or Library B1. She also added that if there is to be a 40-percent reduction in staff, she would hate to think how the program would be affected.

“We heard that they were not going to hire a new librarian to replace her, which we felt was going to hurt our program severely,” Dobie said. “We feel like we’re important to student success.”

Dobie described the library as the heart of the campus, explaining that their main focus is always for the benefit of the students. She emphasized her point, explaining that even when showing students how to find the library page on BC’s website, she would tell them, “It’s under student services, we are here for students.”

She continued to explain their dedication to the students, saying, “We do a lot of hands-on helping and working very closely with faculty to try to make sure that students understand different aspects of research and are able to complete it and gain independence in the research process.

“That takes a lot of one-on-one training and time, so to reduce the number of people who could deliver that makes me feel it will impact student success,” she said. “Decisions haven’t been made, but what’s certain is when you have fewer people trying to do the same number of essential programs, it stretches people further.”

Lingo reminisced about the beginning of the Cerro Author Day, which she called one of the main highlights of her career at BC. She spoke about the woman, Dolores Cerro, who donated money to the library. She recalled the discussion of how to spend the donations in a way that would have the greatest impact, and said that instead of doing something like buying furniture, they decided to start the Cerro Author Day.

“Those days are just extraordinary days,” Lingo said, fighting back tears. “It’s just like the best day of the year because students are so excited, and I have to say that the authors are just amazed by how receptive our students are and I think part of it is because we don’t have a lot of those kinds of opportunities in Bakersfield.”

Dobie added that the background work put into organizing the annual event is what makes it even more of a success.

“I also think when you have worked so closely with faculty and promoted the author visit ahead of time so that students have a chance to read the works, it’s a much more meaningful experience,” Dobie said.

“I’m just proud of the way in which the library expands horizons, both with the Cerro Author Day and also with research skills, because if you can become a good researcher, it’s a lifelong skill that can reward you in so many ways.”

Lingo expressed her concerns about the loss of certain programs, especially the Cerro Author Day.

“I don’t think that would be something that is lost, but I don’t know,” she said.

“If both of us aren’t replaced, it’s hard to imagine what else will be cut, but my guess is that it will be the orientations that we tailor for individual classes. So, I think our service will become more generic.”

Agenjo also commented on her fears of what the loss of two librarians could mean.

“I am very proud of the program the librarians have built over the years – research workshops, discipline-specific orientations, the annual Cerro author visit, etc. – and I would hate to see all of that disappear,” she said. “It would be a tremendous blow.”

Dobie said along with the Cerro Author Day, graduation ceremonies are among some of the main highlights of her career at BC.

“The library always attends graduation and we bring noisemakers and clap and we see these students whom we helped in the library moving on to the next stage in their lives,” Dobie said, calling it the most magical evening. “We have no voices left, but I just float for a couple days after that because it is just grand.”

Dobie and Lingo both agreed that they feel very fortunate to have worked alongside such wonderful people and been a part of an extraordinary staff of committed professionals.

Although they both plan to move out of state after they retire, they joked that they would have been the go-to volunteers for the Cerro Author Day, and would have loved to stay involved with BC.

“I’ve heard people who are on the cusp of retiring just loathing and how they can’t stand to go to work anymore, but we both love our jobs,” Dobie said. Lingo agreed, saying that neither of them feel burnout from their jobs.

Both Lingo and Dobie mentioned plans of continuing work after retirement.

“After I get settled, I expect that I will do something that revolves either around libraries or teaching,” said Lingo.

Dobie said that since she is retiring early due to a job opportunity for her husband in Colorado, she is unsure what her future will hold, but she plans to continue working in a library or with students somehow.

Dobie and Lingo met at BC about 20 years ago, according to Lingo.

“Dawn started teaching part-time in the English department when I was a full-time professor in the English department and we were office partners,” Lingo said.

She explained that they both decided to be librarians around the same time and started their library school experience together, and then ended up working together again at BC, and now are retiring together.

Dobie worked for BC for five years as an adjunct professor, worked as a librarian at East High for eight years, and after working at BC for seven years as a librarian, she will retire at the end of June. Lingo will retire at the end of May after a 30-year career at BC.

“Dawn and Marci’s leaving is a huge loss to me both personally and professionally,” said Agenjo, explaining that even if their positions are filled, their departure will leave a huge void in the library. “The library and the college community will lose two dedicated teachers whose primary focus has always been students.”

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Longtime librarians retire