A career that spanned three decades in libraries from Monmouth to Gloucester Counties came to an end at the close of 2013, as the West Deptford Free Public Library said goodbye to librarian Helene Gray.
Gray, a Brooklyn native spent seven years at her post in the township and many other years working in libraries throughout central New Jersey. It was, she said, a lifelong love.
"The Bradley Beach library," Gray said. "That started it; the people and the books, and the information.
Gray said she will remember the community feeling she got from working in West Deptford. She spoke fondly of enjoying the public turnout for programs at the library as well as the opportunity for her work to serve the public.
"It’s helped a lot of people," Gray said; "that’s what it’s all about. With a lot of people out of work, looking for jobs, we’ve helped a lot of people with their resumes and applications. When they come back and tell us that they’ve gotten a job, that makes us feel good."
Mother to three married children and grandmother to three grandchildren, Gray said her retirement will allow her to spend more time reading, of course (she prefers romance novels), crocheting, and enjoying her family. She's planning an Alaskan cruise vacation in July.
As she closes the chapter on a long professional career in a paper-and-ink field that has gone increasingly digital, Gray says libraries will always fill an important community need.
"It’s a constantly changing culture, and everybody changes with it, to adapt," she said. "But the importance of the written word will never be replaced."