Community pillar retires after nearly three decades of service

Wed, 09/05/2007 - 8:31am
By: The Citizen

Thanks for the memories-Mary Allen M.T. Allen, right, serves Carole Arnoldi for the last time. Arnoldi, a 10 year resident of Peachtree City, is an avid reader and visits the Peachtree City Library weekly. Allen retired from the library with 28 years of service.

Mary Allen, better known as “M.T.,” has been a steady presence at the Peachtree City Library despite its many changes. Allen began her service as a volunteer in 1978, filling in for the library’s sole employee, Willard Bryant, when he needed a day off. She was hired as a part-time employee in 1979 and took over the operation shortly thereafter when Bryant retired.

Allen recalls a time when working at the library was “a lot like bartending. People would come in, pull up a chair and talk.” A lot of them were older adults, but some teenagers would also come in and tell her about their problems.

When she was first hired there were only three library employees, and oftentimes only one person would be on duty. Allen recalls an incident when her son, Danny, fell off his bike and broke his arm over by the golf cart bridge that connects Willowbend Road to Aberdeen Shopping Center.

“These kids came in yelling, ‘Mrs. Allen, Mrs. Allen! Danny fell off his bike!’,” Allen recalled. She had no choice but to hang a “Closed” sign on the door and leave.

Allen has witnessed enormous growth of library services, which meant many changes during her tenure, including the moving of the facility a total of four times. The library was initially located in the old municipal building where the fountain on the plaza is now located. The first move took place in 1985 when the library was relocated to the Aberdeen Shopping Center in the space now occupied by Ultimate Fitness. The second move was into a brand new building on Willowbend Road, which opened on July 15, 1987. Then in 1995, the library expanded another 10,000 square feet. Fast forward to the 2003 voter approved bond referendum that paid for the most recent addition and renovation, which required moving the facility over to Commerce Drive (move number three) and back again (number four) when construction was complete in 2005.

Allen says the biggest change is how busy the library is, “We are constantly busy. We don’t have time to talk to patrons much anymore. Years ago, I was able to read myself!”

She also says the demand for books has increased. “It used to be that people checked out what we had on the shelves,” she said. “Now people request specific books, and they want them fast.”

And, of course, technology has changed. While many chose to leave the profession in the early ‘90s, Allen stayed on learning all she could about computers and the new integrated library systems.

When asked what her favorite part of her job was, Allen says it was the people. She has served three generations of residents. “Now I see the children and grandchildren of some of my original patrons,” stated Allen. “It’s been fun to watch the kids grow up and start their own families.”

Allen plans to keep busy in her retirement, remaining active in Kiwanis Club and her church. She also enjoys painting, which she had put on hold due to her busy work schedule. This fall, she and her husband Glen will also be taking an extended vacation up to her hometown in Auburn, NY.

Allen will surely be missed by co-workers and patrons alike.

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