A familiar smiling face at the Jane Culbreth Leeds Library will be leaving soon.
Debbie Bennett, a librarian at Leeds library for 10 years, will be retiring at the end of May, ending her regular presence at the library but not her volunteerism for them.
Bennett dabbled in the idea of being a librarian early in her career and was even offered a position in the public library system in Birmingham in 1979. She turned it down to go into the medical field, where she thrived.
“Once I began working in the medical field, that was my love and my life for the next several decades,” Bennett said.
After retiring from nursing, she volunteered as a Friend of the Leeds Jane Culbreth Library. Then, when she found a need to return to part-time work after the 2008 recession, she found a spot and a 10-year home at the Leeds library starting in 2009 – 30 years after turning down her first opportunity to work in library science.
Now, 40 years later, she is retiring.
“I have been fortunate to have spent the past decade as a member of the Leeds Jane Culbreth Library staff and have come to know so many wonderful people in Leeds through my job,” Bennett said.
Melanie Carden, director of the Leeds Jane Culbreth Library, said Bennett’s positive outlook and inviting spirit will be what she and library visitors will miss the most.
“Leeds Jane Culbreth Library has been extremely fortunate to have Debbie Bennett on staff for the last 10 years,” Carden said. “She’s the type of person who instantly becomes a friend instead of ‘just’ a coworker. She has made such a difference with her constant optimism, enthusiasm and willingness to assist day in and day out. Her kind spirit has helped to create an inviting atmosphere for our library visitors. Working with Debbie has been such a pleasure. To say that she will be missed seems like such an understatement! I hope retirement brings her many wonderful things.”
Bennett grew up in the suburbs of Birmingham and received a bachelor’s in liberal arts and music history at Colorado College, Colorado Springs.
She worked after college in a family business in Telluride, Colo., then moved back to Birmingham at age 24 and was hired by Princeton Surgical P.C. as a medical receptionist. There, Bennett became interested in patient care and was encouraged by her physician bosses to go back to school in nursing or medicine.
She received a bachelor’s in nursing from the University of Alabama in 1984 and a master’s in maternal-infant nursing in 1988, finishing six weeks before her first child was born.
“My nursing career was spent at Children’s Hospital of Alabama, where I worked in the critical care and neonatal intensive care nurseries and as a consultant for the Department of Family Services,” she said.
Now another chapter for Bennett begins.
“I look forward to the next chapter, where I will enjoy being a regular library patron, spending more time with my husband and extended family, and continuing with my volunteer activities, which include being on the Board of the Leeds Historical Society, fostering kittens for the Greater Birmingham Humane Society, staffing the information desk at the Birmingham Museum of Art, and singing in my church choir,” she said.
“My retired friends tell me that I will find myself busier than ever, and I believe them,” she added. “I look forward to doing some travelling, including going to England with my husband, who was born in London.”