April 24 – Ferndale Library event to celebrate Ed Burns’ retirement
April 24 – Ferndale Library event to celebrate Ed Burns’ retirement
(Ferndale Area District Library, April 16, 2022)
Ferndale, MI – “I always had an affinity for libraries – and always spent a lot of time in libraries – growing up,” said Ed Burns, Ferndale’s Head Reference Librarian. “Anytime I moved to a new city, one of the first things I did was get a library card.”
And looking back now over the last 20 years of his life, Ed said he felt he could grow alongside Ferndale Library, from joining the Friends Group in the early 2000s to witnessing community-driven efforts and support in renovating the library library space while also getting his masters degree in information science on the other side of 50 to observe the growing supply of physical and digital resources accessible to users.
Ed will be retiring at the end of April and we know that many well wishers, along with all of our staff, will miss him. And Ed also assured that he will miss these opportunities to connect with customers.
Celebrating the librarian Ed Burns
Sunday April 24 | 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m
Ed earned his Library and Information Sciences degree almost 14 years ago, but his humble beginnings here at Ferndale Library stretch back to 2000 when he volunteered for a rather unspectacular assignment…
“[Librarian]Darla (Munger) was in charge of that sort of thing at the time, and she told me the only thing she had at the time was shelf reading,” Ed said. “There you go down each shelf and look at the back label of each book and make sure everything is in order. Darla said, “It’s very boring…” And I said, “Well, it has to be done, right? Count me in!’ And I ended up enjoying it – it’s not something I want to do every day, but it was something I could get lost in for a while.”
Ed stayed on as a volunteer and was given more and more library-related assignments. He joined Friends of the Ferndale Library and eventually became President of the non-profit organization that oversaw ongoing efforts to support library programming and expand its resources. He did all of this while retaining a computer support job at another company. The more time he spent helping out in the library, the more he realized how disinterested he was in continuing the job. “So when I was 49 I started grad school – I thought the library would be a good transition; I thought I had something to offer.”
“To quit my job like that and start something new took equal parts courage, optimism, and stupidity,” Ed joked. “It was kind of funny the reaction I got from people when I told them I was going to library school; it was as if I were some mythical creature – the 50-year-old man who quit his job and became a librarian. But I really think I ended up exactly where I should be.”
Ed was hired in October 2008, just as the library was in the midst of major renovations that would transform the building into a 21st-century facility. These renovations allowed the library to expand, expanding its youth section, expanding its public computer space and expanding its hours of operation! “It was really inspiring to watch,” Ed said. “I give great credit to Kevin Deegan-Krause for making this happen – someone who helped make something of this magnitude possible but was very humble at the time. But it was also inspiring to see the response from the community that voted for it and the positive response when the library was revamped. It was so much bigger, so much brighter, and people really felt like a part of it.”
Ed reiterated his appreciation for the “very generous citizens of Ferndale,” without whom the library could not have grown as quickly and efficiently as it has over the past 15 years. “And that’s how we’ve been able to hire more staff and diversify the types of materials and programs we offer — we’ve really grown a lot — and I think we’ve been able to become an important part of the community and minister to a lot of people that we might not have ministered to before.” Now we have a lot more resources online and can reach people who for whatever reason didn’t come to the library.”
As long as Ed is present at our information desk, he’ll be even more committed to the Friends of Ferndale Library! For the last decade he has been our staff member for Friends Liaison, attending meetings, helping out at events and helping volunteers sort donations for the Friends Used Bookstore. “People come and go, but for a number of years we’ve just had a really nice group of people who want to put in the work, who really love the library and who want to be a part of it,” Ed said. “I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to work with such fine people and I’m truly grateful for everything they’ve done.”
Ed has always had a passion for films. In his youth he often went to the theater and as a teenager he even worked part-time as a card collector. So of course he spent most of his time as a librarian here at Ferndale meticulously and lovingly developing our DVD collection.
“But when I started here, we didn’t have a single foreign language film,” Ed explained. “And I felt it was necessary for a public library to be able to inform people about what’s going on around the world and what stories are being told by filmmakers in other countries. I began by adding classic foreign language films, films that have always been highly regarded by critics, scholars and historians; Films that I know have influenced other filmmakers. And little by little films were added that were successful at film festivals or won international awards and I’m really proud of the collection that we have now. It’s something I love, something I’m very passionate about, and something I’m happy to share. It’s also great to get so much feedback on it. And I wanted our customers to have access to these titles, but it was also good to see that these titles are being rented out quite a bit, which is exciting for me because we can give these films a bigger audience.”
One of Ed’s fondest memories is indicative of the connections he was able to make and the relationship he was able to develop with customers. “We have our shelves of ‘staff picks’ and I would usually put out an unconventional film and there was a patron who would usually make my selection when she came in. And I started talking to her about movies whenever she walked in. And one thing, one day when she was standing at the information desk talking to another librarian just as I came over to sit down – she was looking for movie recommendations and the other librarian asked what kind of movies she liked – she just pointed at me, as I walked up and said I like what he likes!”
And there have been cases where a customer has searched for a specific film, only to find that the library copy was already on loan. In these cases, Ed has always been able (and eager) to pair them with another title that was stylistically similar, to satisfy the client’s tastes while also introducing them to something entirely new that they might themselves hadn’t found or looked for.
Ed has been looking forward to his retirement and is particularly looking forward to spending his summers in Ocean City, New Jersey – a place he has long loved but has not been able to return to in decades. “I look forward to who will take over and what the department might become now with someone else at the helm.” ideas” and “new enthusiasm” just as he has done through his passion for films, commitment to friends and compassionate service to so many of Ferndale Library’s visitors.
Come and personally wish Ed a happy retirement on Sunday, April 24, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the library common room.
Check out the Oakland County Times events page for more activities! Email event information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to Jim Shaffer & Associates Realtors for sponsoring this section!