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Walpole closes chapter as Park Rapids librarian

Becky Walpole will bid farewell to her role as librarian in August. An open house will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 6 with a short program at 10:30 a.m. Interviews are under way for her replacement. (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)

She arrived as a mom, babe in arms, a toddler at her side, for story time.

She leaves as branch manager, children and adults enriched by her penchant for the entertainment and information a library holds.

"I've loved every minute here. It will be hard to say goodbye," said Becky Walpole, who, after 12 years as a volunteer and employee, will bid farewell to the Park Rapids Area Library in August.

Husband Gary, former pastor of Hubbard United Methodist, now serves the Peace United Methodist congregation in North Oaks, a Twin Cities suburb.

And son Scott has been accepted at the Perpich Center for Arts Education, a 20-minute drive from the family's townhouse in Shoreview.

That was the deciding factor in the timing for the move south. Walpole originally considered staying north so Scott could finish high school at Nevis.

But the audition with his electric guitar earned the invitation to attend the notable two-year institution in Golden Valley. "It's his passion... He's very excited about it, but he will miss his friends," she said.

The couple's oldest son, Brian, is in his second year at St. Olaf. "He'll be much closer" - and excited at the prospect of being able to borrow the car.

"Everyone has something but Mom," Walpole said of her job search, a role in a library her first choice, but no positions are available. "I'm exploring all the options."

Walpole's role at the library began as a mom and moved to volunteer assistant for the children's story hour, her degree in elementary and early childhood education a plus.

She moved on to "substitute librarian," a position she held for three years until being named children's librarian. She's been the library manager for the past four years, and still conducting story hours.

During the years, she's witnessed the profound impact of computers and the Internet on people's lives.

"It helps people stay connected," she said of photos and emails between friends and family. Patrons, or family members, with medical issues arrive to gain information on the condition.

And car repair databases draw mechanics, who study "a repair manual for '78 Nova," for example, online.

"It's the best library around. Park Rapids is so lucky," she said of the support from the city, county "and our great patrons.

"The Friends are the best group anywhere."

"We've been here 18 years, in a parsonage in the middle of the woods," she said of the family home south of Akeley. Her view of bears, porcupines, deer and a stray horse will be replaced with neighbors.

"It will be an interesting change," said the former Blaine resident, "which I don't recognize anymore."

Friends of the Library are hosting an open house from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 5, with a short program kicking off the event. Light refreshments will be served.