WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - When White Plains Library Assistant Director Patricia Thorsen was growing up in Briarcliff, she often took her high school and college assignments to the old White Plains Library. The staff's "excellent customer service" impressed Thorsen enough that she still strives to achieve the ambiance she once enjoyed.
"To be able to work in my local library was a real joy," said Thorsen, who handled young adult readers when she was hired 37 years ago. "When I came here that was my goal, to mimic that customer service. And now as assistant director, I encourage staff to have excellent customer service."
Thorsen has served as the library's young adult , reference, and local history librarians, as well as one of its community outreach leaders. Her last 10 years were spent minding the "day-to-day nuts and bolts of running the library" as its assistant director. Thorsen planned projects, addressed patron questions and concerns, and kept about 60 staff members on top of new policies and procedures before retiring last Friday.
"I am extremely proud of the fact that for about 24 years I visited virtually every seventh grade classroom in White Pains, both public schools and Catholic schools," said Thorsen. "I still have kids who are no longer kids come in and say, 'I remember when you came in and gave a book talk in my class.' So I feel Ive been a very welcoming presence in the library."
Thorsen, who moved to White Plains about 30 years ago, said the book talks she once presented to local teens were so integrated into her life that she rehearsed speeches while drying her hair. She brought 15 to 20 newer reads to english classrooms where her talks would entice students to check out books, and the library's adult section.
Thorsen said, as a reader, she'd always enjoyed libraries.
"When I was very young, I read Nancy Drew books and I still love mysteries, but I read historical fiction and biographies a lot now," said Thorsen, who studied English and American history in college before getting her library degree at Queens College of CUNY.
Thorsen was "a dream to work with," according to Library Director Sandra Miranda.
"She's organized, professional, kind, thorough, and just wonderful to work with," said Miranda, who has known Thorsen for 22 years. "All of [Thorsen's] work has helped people whether it was as a young adult librarian, a reference desk librarian, or the assistant director."
Although Thorsen is retiring, she has no shortage of activities on her to-do list. She plans to do "creative cooking," hike, kayak, bike, and "read all those books she never had time to read." Thorsen will also tour Civil War sites in Pennsylvania and Virginia, where her children live.
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