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Mary Jeanne Vincent, Career Talk: A 50-year career comes to a close

Post Date:01/28/2020 1:40 PM
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Contrast today’s high-tech Silicon Valley employee whose average stay with a company is 1.8 to 7.8 years with the 50-year library career of Teddy Hellam and you get a snapshot into how the world of work has changed since our parents and grandparents began working. For one thing, back then most people talked about having a job, not a career. What started as a part-time job slowly built into a career, one that became a lifelong passion. We should all hope for one that is as rewarding as Hellam’s.

Seaside Branch Library staff, Monterey County and Seaside City officials, and the public will honor Hellam Feb. 15 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the Seaside Branch Library’s 90th birthday party. All are invited. This is your chance to applaud Hellam for a career well-served. It is also a great opportunity to celebrate an institution that continues to serve our community with free resources including a homework center for students, summer programs for children, adult literacy program, Food for Thought Book Club, computer and internet access, family-centered activities, and print, audio and digital resources.

Hellam has spent her entire career with the Monterey County Free Libraries and more specifically as a member of the Seaside branch staff. She started at the library as a 17-year-old high school junior working in what was then called the Emerson Library. (Check out the newspaper article featuring a very young Teddy then Cristoeal, which is located on the bulletin board to the right just beyond the library foyer.) Back then the library was located at the corner of Elm and Imperial Avenues in the basement of the old Monterey Bay Grange. Hellem is the only current Seaside branch employee who worked for the library before the current building was built.

Hellam credits Mrs. Dorothy Carnie, Branch Manager from 1967 to 1975, with instilling in her the importance of making the library a friendly, welcoming place where no question went unanswered. It is a high bar to reach and one that she has strived to live up to every day.

In 1978, shortly after Prop 13 was passed library funds were cut, Hellam and one other employee were tasked with keeping the library doors open until other funding could be found. A revealing example of Hellam’s dedication to her work is found in the story of her wedding which took place in what is now the Library’s Homework Center. After the service was completed and cake served, she realized that it was closing time and the only employee on duty hadn’t locked up. Still in her wedding dress, she dutifully ushered patrons out and locked the door before heading off to her wedding barbeque.

One might wonder why anyone would stay in the same job for 50 years. While some aspects of the job remain consistent, the need to serve and assist the public in the pursuit of education and information, the way the work is done has changed significantly. Hellam clearly remembers the challenge of moving from a manual to an automated system and the later introduction of audio and digital resources. In the course of her career, she has taken on responsibility for training, supervising and scheduling staff, filling in when the Branch Librarian is not in while continuing to field patron questions, complaints and compliments. I will miss her.

Mary Jeanne Vincent, career expert and strategist, has a coaching practice in Monterey. She may be reached at 831-657-9151, mjv@careercoachmjv.com, or www.careercoachmonterey.com 

Link to article:

https://www.montereyherald.com/2020/01/27/mary-jeanne-vincent-career-talk-a-50-year-career-comes-to-a-close/

 

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