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By Hilary Corrigan

Triplicate staff writer

A semi-retired librarian who has worked in libraries across the nation for about 40 years has started a new chapter leading Del Norte County's.

andquot;I guess I've been a librarian since I was in the first grade,andquot; said Russell Long, recalling the classroom book deposit that he tracked long before jobs in California, Nebraska and Florida libraries. andquot;I'm 63 and I plan to work forever.andquot;

Long started work Thursday, taking the director position that Patty Hector held until she resigned late last year.

He knows the challenges.

The operates on about $200,000 each year, has limited its hours and cut programs. In recent years, voters have rejected propositions for a tax that would have provided the library with about $400,000 each year.

andquot;Sometimes fresh eyes immediately seize upon opportunities,andquot; Long said.

The library needs to increase its income, he said. More money would let the facility stay open longer, hire a children's program leader, add more books and materials, host more music shows and lectures.

andquot;The library should be a prime cultural center,andquot; he said.

Coming from South Lake Tahoe, Long with earn about $45,000 a year in the position.

andquot;He's had just tons of experience,andquot; said acting director Kelley Nolan. andquot;His knowledge base is probably better than anybody we've had.andquot;

Long has worked in the field as libraries have changed their cataloguing, circulation and loan procedures. Del Norte's library is now altering its systems.

andquot;He already knows about those things,andquot; Nolan said.

Long sees the facility as a public service. Business owners seek information on marketing strategies, illiterate people seek help learning to read, others seek books for entertainment or computers for job searches.

andquot;People come in here dressed in all kinds of ways, wanting all kinds of things, and the presumption is that they're going to get help,andquot; Long said. andquot;A library is kind of sacred ground.andquot;

Reach Hilary Corrigan at hcorrigan@triplicate.com.

Meet Russell Long

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