After 26+ years, they’re shelving their careers

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Michelle Traylor, Mary Read retire together

By Carolyn Ten Broeck, Editor

It is said that when people are married for a number of years they develop the ability to finish each other’s sentences–and sometimes thoughts.

The same holds true for Michelle Traylor and, as she calls her “my good volunteer” Mary Read.

The pair have been cataloging and shelving books at the Williston Public Library for more than 26 years and tomorrow, Feb. 28, they will scan their last library cards and collect their last overdue fines.

Or will they?

“It’s in your blood,” Traylor said. She was working in a bank all those years ago when Read approached her and asked if she’d like to be the librarian.

“With her crown of braids,” Traylor said of Read, “she reminded me of my grandmother. She was a God-send.”

Back in those days, the library was a cramped room attached to city hall, and when the old Perkins Bank building became available Traylor and Read saw potential that would evolve throughout the years.

From actual working on plans to seeing construction through its completion, the two have worked side by side and share a familial bond that transcends the workplace.

“We’ve been a team for so many years,” Traylor said, dotting at her eyes. “I didn’t make decisions without consulting Mary first.”

“But she didn’t always go along with what I said,” Read, a former educator, laughed.

Along with Read’s husband, Wyeth, and countless other volunteers including Mary and John McDaniel, Rhoda Selden and Vickie Kyte, who brought stories to life as Cousin Vickie, the library blossomed under Traylor and her “good volunteers.”

“The four of us (Read, Selden and Kyte) experienced together the transition from card catalog and manual typewriter to the computer,” Traylor said.  

“Another exciting chapter unfolded as we held “Share your Memories” receptions in our new library. Five years later,  “Williston: Crossroads of Florida was published.    It's great to think this building which once held the wealth of the community now holds a wealth of resources available  for all to enjoy.”

And why now? Why retire at the same time, taking so much history with them?

“The hour cometh and now is,” said Read, quoting the Gospel of John.

Both women are ready for the next chapter in their lives but both admit they will still be familiar faces at the library, but this time on their terms.

Traylor plans to spend time with her husband, grandchildren and sisters and Read will plug along in her garden when she’s not baking bread, spending time with her husband or playing the organ at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church.

“It’s been a wonderful journey,” Traylor drawing a misty-eyed Read closer.