Kimberly-Ann Talbert

Kimberly-Ann Talbert, library assistant and circulation supervisor at the La Cañada Flintridge Library, poses in front of her award-winning photography. On June 27, Talbert plans to retire from the local branch after more than 34 years. (Courtesy of Kimberly-Ann Talbert / June 5, 2014)

Kimberly-Ann Talbert has witnessed a lot of changes at the La Cañada Flintridge Library since she first arrived as a library aide on April 1, 1980.

She came as a young woman who loved working with books and saw the library as a vital network of literacy and information. As she worked her way from aide to library assistant, eventually earning her master’s degree in library science, the library underwent its own subtle changes, from rubber stamps and LPs to online catalogs and DVDs.

Talbert helped first-generation La Cañadans, who regularly patronized the library in the ’80s. She saw little kids — story-time regulars — grow up to become teenagers and adults who brought their own children in to be read to.

Through all the changes, she persisted, teaching herself new technologies and learning virtually every job at the branch.

“We’re here to help you find information and fulfill your curiosity and create and think beyond. That, to me, is what the library is,” she said.

Now, with more than three decades and a lifetime of memories under her belt, Talbert has decided on a new adventure. She plans to retire to spend more time traveling, living and pursuing her artistic passion for photography and gourd art. Her last day is June 27.

Co-worker Elaine Braddock, the adult and teen services librarian, says she will sorely miss Talbert’s wisdom, humor and attention to detail.

“She’s lively and she just has this big personality,” said Braddock, who’s become “outside friends” with Talbert during her three years at the La Cañada branch. “On days when she’s not here, you feel that loss. It’s sort of too quiet without her.”

Talbert said she’s looking forward to focusing more on her photography, a passion she’s developed since childhood. She currently serves as second vice president of the Verdugo Hills Art Assn. and has helped bring regular art and photography shows to the library.

She also hopes to continue her work on painted gourds, a practice she says brings her closer to Native American culture, another interest.

Reflecting back on her long tenure, Talbert said she appreciates all that she was able to accomplish as an employee with the Los Angeles County Library, which oversees the local branch.

“This job has enabled me to have my life,” she said. “I love this library. I love my community, and I love doing what I do.”

In her role as library assistant II and circulation supervisor, Talbert has helped inform the branch’s purchase of large-print editions, mystery and audio books as well as music. Library Manager Mark Totten admires her knowledge of the community and its needs.

“It seems like she’s part of the bricks and mortar,” he added. “We’re losing somebody who literally has so much knowledge of how things work, that whoever replaces her is going to have a big learning curve.”

To young aides or assistants just starting out in the library business, Talbert offered her own advice.

“Learn everything and do it to the best of your ability,” she said. “Be reliable, and know you can be counted on.”

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Follow Sara Cardine on Twitter: @SaraCardine.

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