Laurel Library loses vibrant branch manager to retirement

As Laurel Library's manager for six years, Roy Joynes has traveled to library conventions around the world, become a popular presenter elementary and high school Career Days, shared his love of reading by bringing a Boys Read program to Oaklands Elementary and enjoyed the spotlight as the man behind the library on Seventh Street.

Now Joynes, 57, is getting ready to try something new: retirement.

Showing his good-natured way of handling issues, Joynes says in retirement he "wants to win an Oscar; I can sing and dance."

On a more serious note, Joynes said he wants "to see how bored I'll get, and even with a good severance package, I do want to double dip," not ruling out finding a job after he retires from the Laurel Library on April 5.

Joynes' retirement is one end-product of a countywide reorganization of how individual public library branches are managed. Beginning this month, county branches will no longer have their own managers. New positions of area managers have been created and those managers will have responsibility for several branches.

Some current branch managers, including Joynes, applied for the new area manager positions. After not being selected for the job, Joynes, who has been with the county library system for 33 years, was offered the chance for early retirement.

Arlene Ogurcik, who has worked at the library with Joynes for about five years, described Joynes as "a welcoming and inclusive force at the library."

Maria Raynes, who has worked in circulation at the Laurel Library for 30 years, said Joynes is "friendly, warm, lovely; and has a positive word for everyone all the time. We will miss his leadership and energy and his positiveness."

Library reorganization

Eliminating the 19 individual branch managers was "the result of a lot of study and data," said Kathleen Teaze, director of the Prince George's County Memorial Library System.

"Over the last five or six years we have had continued budget reductions, and have had to do things in order to manage that," Teaze said, citing such actions as eliminating Sunday hours and freezing pay raises.

"Data showed we could group branch libraries into five area; not just by location but by the way the people in communities use the libraries based on customer behavior and needs and activities in those branches," Teaze said.

Laurel Library will be grouped with library branches in Bowie, Greenbelt and Beltsville, and Teaze said Blane Halliday has been hired as that area manager. She said Halliday was most recently at a library in Collier County, Fla., and has worked at the Enock Pratt Library in Baltimore.

"Joynes was a great branch manager who did an excellent job," Teaze said. "We are sorry to lose him."

Superlatives describing Joynes also came from Friends of the Laurel Library President Tom Dernoga, who said the community was "fortunate to have somebody that interested."

Dernoga, who is a former Prince George's County Council President and lives in West Laurel, described losing someone who is really well liked as a branch manager as a "disappointing scenario."

The Friends group helps fund library programs, and Dernoga said Joynes took a hands-on approach to programs, helping to schedule events and drumming up participation.

Circulation staffer Ogurcik credits Joynes with such innovations as starting the annual summer reading program with an ice cream social to get draw participants to the program and start it off with "a flourish."

"There's no way an area manager can be that hands-on," Dernoga said. "A new area manager is going to go to all the Friends meetings, which is great, but how will they be hands-on with all the programs at four branches?" Dernoga said. "Who is going to pick that up and make sure those things will happen?" at Laurel, he asked.

Dernoga also said that while Joynes leaving the Laurel Library had a silver lining in that he was given the option of early retirement, the timing of Joynes' retirement is unfortunate because construction of the expanded library is set to begin this fall.

"He's been there through the whole new library discussion, and now will be gone before the groundbreaking," Dernoga said.

'Building communities'

Reflecting on his career as a librarian, Joynes said, "I made a difference."

Before coming to Laurel, Joynes, who lives in Bowie, was branch manager at Fairmont Heights, where he said he reached out to the community, knocking on doors to spread the word about library programs and to encourage neighbors to register for library cards.

Joynes said he continued that outreach at the Largo-Kettering and Oxon Hill libraries. When he later wanted to move back to the north end of the county, Joynes said coming to Laurel was "a perfect fit."

During his tenure, Joynes made sure the library had a presence at community events such as the Main Street Festival and the city's annual open house, and created partnerships with not only schools but local groups such as the Laurel Historical Society; the Laurel Museum and the Laurel Library help publicize each other's programs and the library gives display space to the museum.

Joynes said he enjoyed visiting Laurel schools for Career and Guest Reader Days, shaking the stereotype that librarians are all women and exposing youngsters to careers in libraries, a career he said he has enjoyed.

"We do change lives, we do build communities," Joynes said.

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