After 18 years reading stories, leading finger play and singing songs during the Story Time, library assistant Debbie Gravel is retiring. Gravel hosted her last Story Time at the Ketchikan Public Library on Thursday.
More than 70 young children, along with their parents and teachers, helped give Gravel a grand send off.
She says she was a little nervous by all the attention and sheer number of people, but seemed comfortable as she read several stories, including “Lucky Socks” by Carrie Weston and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle. She also lead songs and games, and showed a short video to the boisterous preschoolers.
Linda Lyshol has known Gravel since October 2011 when she became library director. Lyshol says she is impressed with Gravel’s work and her interactions with children.
“I’ve just been amazed by her. She’s a fantastic person and her artwork. She’s the one who does the fantastic flyers for the library. There’s that, but the kids just love her. It’s sad to be losing somebody like that, but she’s going on to bigger and better things, and I wish her well.”
Librarian Charlotte Glover has worked with Gravel for 18 years.
“It’s just been a wonderful, wonderful partnership. We have different strengths and weaknesses, and bring different skills to the library job. We always supported each other and felt like we were really working together towards a common goal, wich is just having the best library program we could have. I’m just really, really blessed to have worked with her all these year. So it’s a hard day. It’s a hard day to say goodbye. But we’re looking forward to visiting her in her new home.”
After Story Time, a cake and lemonade reception was held and children worked on a craft project, making their own hungry caterpillar. Gravel says she had no idea a party was planned or that so many children would be attending.
“Very surprised. Overwhelmed. But it was lovely and very, very special.”
Gravel says she feels lucky having a job she loves.
“If I wasn’t moving, I probably wouldn’t be leaving the library just yet. It’s been a wonderful place to work and wonderful to work with kids. I love doing stories and I love reading books to kids. I love books.”
Gravel and her husband are moving to Haines in mid-May. She says she’s looking forward to gardening, fishing, driving, and exploring another part of Alaska and the Yukon.