Librarian John begins new chapter with retirement

Retired area librarian John Beedle
Retired area librarian John Beedle

IT is the end of an era at the library with the retirement of John Beedle after 30 years at the helm.

He has been synonymous with the lending of books to thousands of Teries since 1981, but the well-known Geordie has now reached the final chapter in his career.

And despite having overseen a raft of changes – ranging from the children’s library moving upstairs, to pink cardboard reader’s cards being replaced by plastic – it is a job which has always been a labour of love.

John told the Hawick News: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my 30 years as the librarian of Hawick, and as area librarian for Hawick, Coldstream, Jedburgh and Kelso, and consider I had one of the best jobs in Scottish Borders Council.

“Every day was different and I never knew what was going to happen. There have been many funny stories, and I wish I had kept a diary to remind me of them all.”

Arriving in Hawick for the first time, having worked for Northumberland and Durham County Libraries, John admits that although it was a dark October afternoon, he “immediately felt at home”. He continued: “I thought it would be a good place to work and was delighted when I was appointed.”

His new role saw him becoming the seventh incumbent to take charge at the library, and his staff comprised six full-time workers and one part-time. Over the years John has guided his team through a major refurbishment in 1987, computerisation in 1999 and the installation of public computers in 2002.

And outlining one major shift from librarians choosing their books from slips, to going on to a mobile library and now online, he admitted: “From a librarian’s point of view the book selection has changed greatly.”

But one aspect of the job that remains constant is the Hawick public’s affection for the North Bridge Street facility, which is the busiest library in the Borders, has a staff of 10, a membership of 4,000, and carries a stock of around 26,500 books as well as music CDs and DVDs.

The library – which celebrated its centenary in 2004 – is also home to a wealth of historical material on Hawick and the surrounding area.

And as he closed the book on his career, John paid tribute to the libary’s “hard-working and dedicated staff”, adding: “It has been a great pleasure to have spent 30 such happy years in Hawick and the Borders. I’ve worked with a great team, doing a job I have loved, and I will be leaving the library service taking many happy memories with me.”

n NEW on the library shelves this week: Fiction – The Raging Spirit (Scottish historical) by Jane Gadsby. The Somme Stations (war) by Andrew Martin. That Summer in Ischia (first novel) by Penny Feeny. The Lost Days of Summer (war) by Katie Flynn. Inquisition (murder, lust and revenge) by Alfredo Colitto. To Love and Cherish (Liverpool saga) by Lyn Andrews. Dark Matter (philosopical thriller) by Juli Zeh. The Hanging Shed (crime) by Gordon Ferris. Non-fiction – Anatomy and Physiology for Dummies. Dancing with Darkness: Life, Death and Hope in Afghanistan, by Magsie Hamilton Little.