By Sue Botos
Although Evelyn Janoch, manager of Adult Services at the Rocky River Public Library, didn’t plan on becoming a librarian, her love of books led her to the profession.
“You know you’re destined to become a librarian when you’re reading Jane Eyre in the sixth grade on a beautiful summer day,” remarked Janoch in a recent interview. She is retiring at the end of July after 34 years in the library business, 16 of which were spent at the Rocky River library.
Janoch said that her mother, now 82, always encouraged her to read, and still enjoys the books Janoch chooses for her.
“She says, ‘I always learn when I read,’” recalled Janoch, who began her career by chance in her hometown of Streetsboro. As a young mother, she was taking her daughter, then 4, to the library, which was within walking distance of their home.
“I saw a job posting and decided to apply,” said Janoch, who got the job, then went on to attend Miami University and Malone College before receiving her master’s degree in library science from Kent State University.
The growth of the Internet has been the biggest change in the library business, particularly during Janoch’s time at Rocky River.
“In 1995 we were still ordering books by writing titles on index cards,” she said, recalling that it’s now much easier to find a book or put one on hold electronically than searching through cards.
The Internet has also been a boost to Janoch’s favorite aspect of her job: helping people. She recalled she once assisted a woman searching for a picture of her brother’s World War II grave in Normandy, France by finding it online. She also helped another woman find a discount for her medications on the Internet.
“You really make friends with people, and they thank you for your help. You get feedback, and in a lot of professions you don’t get that,” she said.
Janoch especially enjoys the library’s readers’ advisory service, which allows patrons to ask staff members about books and read their reviews. She said each librarian in the adult department has an area of expertise for their reviews, but not every book on the library shelf has been read by a staff member before purchase.
“If you’re not offending someone, somewhere, you’re not doing your job,” she stated. “Sometimes you have to put aside your personal feelings.” She also enjoyed being able to order books directly from the seller, rather than go through a central ordering office, as is done by the county libraries.
Janoch laughs and asks, “Where to start?” when asked about her favorite books. She said she is enjoying “The Hunger Games” series by Suzanne Collins and “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett, which she said is especially poignant on CD, where characters’ “voices” may be heard. Janoch said she has been known to listen to one book while reading another.
Asked if she would consider a Kindle or other e-reader, Janoch said “I could see myself with one,” adding that in whatever form, “a book is a book.”
Looking ahead, Janoch remarked, “After 34 years of working full time, it will be wonderful to do what I want to do.” She said this may include fishing, antiquing, visiting flea markets, and, of course, spending time with a good book.