Library director retires after 17 years of service

Posted Wednesday, April 15, 2009 - 5:31pm

After 17 years at the College of Eastern Utah, library director, Barbara Steffee is retiring. Steffee was born in Price and grew up in Huntington. She went to CEU and graduated in the class of '64. "When I went here, it was called Carbon College," Steffee said. "It was $50 a term." Whereas now, for a full-time student at CEU, it costs $1120.80 for tuition and student fees.

Steffee went to BYU's extension program in Salt Lake City and received her Master of Library and Information Science, the masters degree required for most professional librarian positions, in 1988. She also received the Hattie Mae Knight Award for the most improved student.

She started in 1992 as the reference librarian. She said she, "Started out as a library assistant; shelving books and cleaning peanut butter and finger prints off of records." Since then has made her way to being the library director, seeing CEU's students through the good and the bad times.

The CEU Library has changed since the time of records and card catalogs. "When I first came here ... there were three different colors of carpet: there was green, yellow and red. The floor was so uneven that you would trip over by where the copy machines are now." She has seen to it that the library added the DVDs, VHS, books on tape, CDs and once they even rented out laptops.

Steffee says, "When I took over, we were $80,000 in debt," and in one year they cleared it. Because they were so far in debt, she was required to do nearly everything in the library. "Sherill Shaw was there then too doing acquisitions, and we had a cataloger, AV manager, public service folks and student workers," she said. With CEU being better off, they hire students to help with the tedious work which needs to be done.

"I hope that the last major decision I made will be good," Steffee said. Her "last major decision" was to combine databases into the Exlibris system. It will contain the checkin-checkout, online catalog, acquisitions, serials, interlibrary loans and faculty reserve. It will replace the Horizon system that we have now.

What is a library director to do with her time, now that she has all the time? Steffee says, "Well, I love to read ... Are you ready for this? I love vampire novels. And I like to read about true crime." One of her favorite authors, Jeffery Deaver, she likes because, "You think you've got it all figured out, and then he turns and goes another direction. He's really hard to anticipate until you've gotten to the end." She also enjoys going to the movies and will probably see more of them.

After so many years, you'd think that one would miss a large part of their lives. When asked if she would miss CEU, Steffee said, "Yes and no. I'm out of ideas to help the students. I hope that whoever they find will have new, fresh ideas to help the students."

It's good to know that there has been someone watching over the students, willing to do what she can and succeeding.

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