Marianne Ryan has been greeting customers at the front desk of the library for 47 years

Marianne walked through the doors on her first day as a library assistant on Friday 7 August 1970.

The Ipswich Central Library has moved locations five times since then.

Her job has involved everything from driving the original mobile library bus, which had a crash gearbox and no power steering, to binding and repairing books, to telling animated stories during children’s reading time.

“It’s a great environment working at the library,” she says. “It’s been a great career and has given me a good life.”

There have been a lot of changes in the industry in a short amount of time.

Marianne welcomes the digital age but thinks if the internet had consulted a librarian it would be much easier to navigate.

“A librarian’s job is to organise information in a way that can be easily retrieved,” she says.


This is a full staff photo from 1970.

(left to right) Robyn Brooks, Wendy White, Elainor Martin, Joy Packer, Marianne Ryan and Librarian Miss Pauline Kerwick.

Back in 1970, the whole service was so different. Books were not just lent for free to ratepayers, like they are now.

“Subscriptions were 30c a year and you could borrow up to 6 books from 4c each per month, or you could pay 65c subscription and get two free books and pay 4c for the other 4.

“All of the books were catalogued and everyone had a physical library card.

“Repairing and binding was a real art form and we used to put magazine covers onto board and it was my job to do the lacquering.

“That was always a funny afternoon, we didn’t realise at the time, it was probably the lacquer fumes,” she laughs.

When the mobile library service started, Marianne had to get her truck licence.

“The driver, Frank Noonan, taught us.

“It had a crash gear box, no power steering and he used to make us reverse park.”

“I got it bogged once at a RAAF Open Day.

“All the kids thought it was great watching the big Army vehicles pulling it out,” she says.

The library may be a quiet place during the day, but once the doors close, it’s a different story.

“Another librarian, Carol Moore, had a joey at one stage back in the 80s.

“It would hang in a bag on the back of the door during the day, but after we close up we’d let him out and run him up and down between the shelves for some exercise.

“We used to be able to do that back then,” she says.

Marianne enjoys seeing her regulars come into the library.

“People are what makes the job interesting. I love customer service, getting to know someone and their interests by what they borrow.

She also enjoys stories. Not just reading them but telling them too.

“People come in now with their kids for story time and they’ll say ‘I remember you reading to me when I was a child’,” she says.

We don’t have a photo of the joey from the 80s but this cute baby Emu did pop into the library last month.

When asked about the public perception of librarians Marianne sets the record straight.

“We don’t sit around reading all day. But we are good to have along to trivia nights.”

Check out the opening hours and what’s on at your local library here.

Shhhhh - Quietly hit the button