Two Grambling State University A.C. Lewis Memorial Library employees retired recently after many years of service.Cora J. Odom disclosed her decision to retire early in the fall semester of 2010.
Many did not believe her until it happened because they were sure she would never retire. Odom was a dedicated library employee for 44 years.
At a retirement dinner offered by the library at Ryan’s Steakhouse in Ruston on Jan. 13, Odom shed light on the reason for so many years of service.
“If anyone stays that long on a job, it must be because they love what they do, and I loved my job,” said Odom.
Indeed, she was passionate about her job as colleagues confirmed in words of encouragement given at the dinner.
Odom joined the library staff in September 1967 under the leadership of Dr. Mary Watson Hymon.
Her first post was in the Reading Room, where she was responsible for maintaining the collection and providing service to the students in that area.
The leadership would eventually pass onto Hazel Johnson Jones, Pauline W. Lee, Dr. Rosemary Mokia, who served as interim director for eight years, and Felix Uneaze, who came in 2009.
Beyond the reading room assignment, Odom served as the Document’s Librarian with part time responsibilities in Serials.
Eventually, the documents would be merged with the main collection, and she would be placed in Serials on a full time basis where she served until her retirement.
Odom’s love for her job was evident to all who came into the library, especially those who sought help in her area.
Dr. Connie Walton, acting provost/vice president of academic affairs, said during the dinner that she would always see Odom in Serials working whenever she visited.
She had a passion for helping students in general and the library student workers who she supervised.
It was not unusual to witness Odom advising student workers as only their parents could. She was also a mother figure on staff, especially to the many young ladies that she worked with over the years.
She plans to have a well deserved rest and spend valuable time with her family, especially her son and daughter-in-law, Cornell and Mary Odom, but more especially her husband, Dr. Thomas Odom, professor and Head Emeritus of Physics at GSU.
Over the past year, Jerry V. Brooks talked about his intention to retire in December 2010 after 33 years of service to the university, but no one believed him. He retired just as he had indicated.
Brooks, an alumnus of GSU resumed work on campus immediately after obtaining a degree in business administration (management/marketing) at the tender age of 19. His first assignment was as a residential hall counselor in 1979.
“As a resident hall counselor, I was much younger than most of the students, but I managed to earn their respect,” said Brooks.
After serving in this capacity for many years, Brooks was transferred to the Student Union in 1984 where he served as the Program Advisor for campus events.
He was later transferred to the dining hall where he served as the Assistant Director of Food Services until December 1998.
In 1999, he became the director of the university mail room. Later in 2001, Brooks migrated to the A. C, Lewis Memorial Library where he served as the Library Specialist 2 for the Reading under the direct supervision of Carolyn McNeal, head of circulation until his retirement.
When Brooks came to the library, the university was undergoing tremendous changes. This was a time of mandated restructuring and Brooks was one of several people who would take positions that required new sets of skills.
Astonishingly, Brooks did not waver in mastering the art of running the reading room, which required learning the Dewey Decimal Classification System.
The system is rudimentary and essential for maintaining the collection, helping with the teaching of library skills, computer literacy, setting up displays, and working with and chairing library committees. He also served on university committees such as the Student Judiciary Committee.
Brooks was a father figure to students, especially those who worked with him.
It was not unusual to find Brooks lost in conversations with students individually and in groups during which he would challenge them to set high goals for themselves in life for success.