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Worneta Cramm has worked at the Deer Lake Public Library for 44 years.
Worneta Cramm has worked at the Deer Lake Public Library for 44 years. - Photo by Roxanne Ryland

Worneta Cramm walked into the Deer Lake Public Library 44 years ago to a sea of empty shelves.

She was just 19 and had been working at a jewelry store in Deer Lake.  

While working Cramm, who graduated from Xavier School in 1973, had taken some night courses in clerk/typing.

Other than helping set up the school’s library and volunteering as a prefect there, she didn’t have any official library training.

But the board of the day knew about her interest in libraries and the work she’d done at the high school, and she was hired.

She started working as a library technician on Nov. 21, 1974 in the newly built facility on Poplar Road.

Her first few weeks were spent training in Corner Brook and at a workshop in Stephenville.

“Then I came back and there was nothing. A brand-new building just opening and no books on the shelves.”

Over the next few weeks, she helped fill those shelves to get the library ready. It opened to the public on Jan. 7, 1975.

For many children in the town it was the first time they ever saw a library, she said.

A couple years into the job she did a correspondence course and received a certificate in library studies. Her actual title has never been librarian, but that is how she’s been known in the community.

In all the years, her love of the job has not changed.

“I came with the building,” she said with a laugh as she reflected on the years. “Part of the furniture, still there.”

She said she was just drawn to the job and is thankful for the opportunity that was given to her all those years ago.

“I have the love of books, but I also have the love of the researching and I love the meet and greet, the social,” she said of what her jobs gives her.

“I greet every person who comes in that door,” she said.

“And I still love the learning. Even the technology now, I want to know.”

The Deer Lake Public Library may be small, but Cramm said it offers a variety of programming for the community, including programs for babies and preschool children.

And its statistics on borrowing show that people are still reading books.

“Even with the technology, here in Deer Lake with a lot of seniors that we have, the actual books are still being taken out.”

The stats show that adult fiction, Newfoundland fiction and westerns are the biggest movers.

The younger generation is now into iPads and even Cramm likes to read a book using Libby, an app for borrowing ebooks and audiobooks from the library. 

In September, the library hosted 459 children from kindergarten to Grade 5. It was a chance to share what the library offers and teach them some life skills about how a library works.

She said the library is a hub for the area. It’s a place where people can send a fax, use a computer or rent a DVD.

Over the years she’s had lots of good co-workers, a supportive board and a lot of patrons, who have left a mark on her.

While she’s been there 44 years, as a part-time employee her official time on the books puts her at just over 31 years, but Cramm has no plans to retire just yet.

When she gets up in the morning she still wants to go to work.

“I still like where I am.”

Some library history

• The Town of Deer Lake’s first library operated from 1956 to 1959 in an old barber shop in the town.

• From 1959 to 1970 there were attempts to build a new library that for various reasons weren’t successful.

• In 1970 a steering committee was formed to make plans for a library, including locating land and raising funds.

• In 1972 the then Deer Lake Integrated School Board gave the old Polar Road School to board for use as a library. Renovations started in January 1973, but the building was destroyed by a fire while the work was happening.

• Within a week the board began to make plans for a new building on the same site.

• The Deer Lake Public Library was completed in November 1974 and opened to the public on Jan. 7, 1975.

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