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Happy trails to retiring Hulbert library director

IN HER ELEMENT — Retiring library director Annette Gernatt is pictured, with Erie County Legislator John Mills, whose hot dog roast fundraisers support the library. Gernatt and Mills are shown with the battle of the bands team Concord 1, that tied for third place. Pictured, from left: Kaylee Timmel, Kailey Gominiak, Keely Johnson, Kaitlynn Steinmetz, Amy Stabell, Megan and Gretchen Wittmeyer, Gernatt and Mills. Photo submitted by Gernatt.

SPRINGVILLE — After 30 years as a library director, Annette Gernatt will retire from her post at the Hulbert Library of the Town of Concord on Aug. 31. Through the decades, Gernatt has seen many changes at the library, and enacted many of those changes herself, during her career.

Gernatt started working in the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library system as a library page in 1966, before she advanced to hold a clerk and typist position. She moved up through the ranks until she was appointed as director of the library, by the board of directors. She received her master’s degree in library science from the University at Buffalo in 1997, according to her husband, Digger Gernatt.

“She’s seen a lot of changes,” Gernatt said, of his wife’s long tenure at the library. “She’s seen a lot of board members come and go, done the budget and the annual report. The building is owned by the town and she’s always appreciated the support of both boards, the town’s and the library’s.”

In addition to her regular duties, Gernatt has also helped coordinate programs, events and renovations, at the library, including the children’s story hour, visits from Mike Randall, Nickel City Reptiles, Sheriff Howard and more. She also helped St. Aloysius Regional School set up its library and worked with the Collins Correctional Facility, to secure an inmate crew, to assist with renovations and help maintain the grounds, according to library vice president Janet Baker.

According to her husband, Annette Gernatt is the type who can juggle many projects, at once.

“She can knit, read a book, watch TV and listen to the radio, at the same time,” Digger Gernatt said.

That multitasking spirit allowed the library director to wear a variety of hats, while serving at the library. In addition to summer reading programs and activities for kids, Gernatt was also instrumental in introducing computers, the Internet and digital items to the library.

An avid knitter, she has knitted baby blankets for local newborns in need, prayer shawls for cancer patients and put together baskets for fundraisers, for both the library and the Collins Center Fire Company Ladies Auxiliary.

Gernatt also served as the driving force for instituting the now annual John Mills Hot Dog Roast fundraiser and bake sale, which helps fund the library’s operations.

“She has great passion for the library and its successful democracy,” Digger Gernatt said.

That passion carried her through a series of health problems, that took her out of commission several times. She always came back to work and her husband said that, even with her retirement, “she’s not a quitter.

“She’s just getting tired. She wants to be home for supper, instead of working nights, to travel and enjoy her family. No more peanut butter sandwiches for me,” he added, with a laugh.

“With a total annual attendance of 60,189 visits in 2010, the Concord library continues to be an important resource, for our community,” Baker noted.

As the leader of that community, Gernatt has been integral in keeping it running and her shoes will be filled in the same way she was hired: by consulting the board that has supported her, through the years.

That leadership has not gone unnoticed.Gernatt’s service was recognized with an appreciation award for service to the community, presented by American Legion Post 431 in April of 1999.

“She’s seen a lot of changes, a lot of people come and go: staff, board members, supervisors,” Digger Gernatt said. “She and the library have always really appreciated all the support from the community, along the way.”

As she retires from her official position, Gernatt said his wife will keep busy doing the things she loves, including losing herself in a book.

“She has always said that a book is like a magic kingdom,” Digger Gernatt said. “Open it up, and you’re off on a magic carpet, on a wonderful journey.”

The library board will send its director off on her own journey, with a party to be held on Aug. 30 from 5 – 7 p.m. The community is invited to stop by to have a piece of cake, a glass of punch and see Gernatt on her way.

For more information, the library can be reached at 592-7742 or online at www.townofconcordny.com/hulbert_library. The library is located at 18 Chapel St. in Springville.
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