When Cape Elizabeth library renovations are done, so is director

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CAPE ELIZABETH — Thomas Memorial Library Director Jay Scherma plans to retire after library renovations are complete.

Scherma, who has been at the library for almost 20 years, said he expects to retire by the end of January 2016. He said the $4 million library renovations, which were approved in a November 2014 referendum, should be completed by then.

“I’m happy that I’ll be able to accomplish this for the town before I leave,” Scherma said.

Scherma said one of his favorite parts of being library director has been the people he has worked with.

“I’ve enjoyed my time here,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to have a wonderful staff to work with.”

Scherma also said he will miss the patrons of the library.

“People are infinitely varied and wonderful in their interests,” he said. “I’m fortunate that over the years people have allowed me into their lives in small ways or large.”

He said he has learned many new things over the years, thanks to the patrons’ many interests.

“If you’re fortunate in your job, everyday is an opportunity to learn and grow,” he said. “That’s part of librarianship.”

Scherma said whoever replaces him will also need to appreciate and enjoy the patrons.

“The next librarian is going to have to be somebody who loves people,” he said. “In Cape Elizabeth we pride ourselves on personalized service.”

Going along with a love of people, Scherma said the new library director will need to know how to interact with people in a way that positively affects the library.

“I think whoever the new library director will be, they’ll have to be good at a number of social skills,” he said. “Fundraising skills are a special set of tools.”

Scherma said these skills are important to have because they’re what helped him and the library staff privately raise funds for new library furnishings.

Scherma said one thing he’s done in his time as library director that he’s most proud of is bringing the library into an automated process. He said libraries have changed with technology and the Internet.

“Libraries have always been about the transmission of information,” he said. “In a similar way, I think that’s shifting. Like many fields in the United States, things are changing. Tools are changing, roles are shifting.”

Scherma said the new library director will need to understand this.

“The new library director will need to have their thumb on the pulse of the evolving range of library services,” he said.

Scherma, a Cape Elizabeth resident, said he has no definite plans for how he’ll spend his retirement.

“The truth of the matter is my wife and I are planning for the first year on getting used to be retired and getting used to who we are apart from our work lives,” he said.

Scherma said he wants to work on “personal enrichment.”

“I am interested in figuring out which areas of my life I set aside years ago (that) I want to go back to,” he said.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Sidebar Elements

New rules for cell phones, photocopies

CAPE ELIZABETH — New policies governing the use of cell phones and the cost of photocopies at Thomas Memorial Library have been approved by  the Town Council.

Councilors on June 15 approved “no-cell-phone zones” and an increase in the price of a copy. The changes were recommended by the library board of trustees and were presented by Councilor Patty Grennon, the liaison to the board.

Cell phones must now be silenced or on vibrate in the library, and librarians are allowed to establish areas where phones  must be shut off.

The price of copies is going from 10 cents a page to 15 cents.

Other general policies have been simplified, too, to provide library staff with more flexibility.

“What (the board has) done is they’ve created some broader language that basically gives more leeway to the library staff to make judgement calls,” Grennon said.

— Kate Gardner

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.