Melody Moxley, praised for generosity, retires from library after 35 years

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The theme for Melody Moxley’s retirement day from Rowan Public Library was generosity. Again and again, people wishing her well talked of her giving spirit and her concern for coworkers and the public.
Phil Barton, retired library director, who worked with Moxley for many of her 35 years at the library praised Moxley for her “unwavering loyalty to the organization, her colleagues, to me and to my successor.”
That successor, Jeff Hall, said Moxley was the “conscience of the library. Melody decides what’s fair and equitable and makes sure everyone gets the best treatment.”
Earlier in the day, Moxley said she was a little jittery about retiring. She started working at Rowan Public Library when she was 24 and made her entire career there. Ever since she was a little girl, she dreamed of being a librarian. “I never wanted to be a teacher or a nurse like so many other women of my generation.”
Hall says he’ll remember Moxley most for her caring nature. If anyone is out sick or for any reason, Moxley “is the first one to show up on their doorstep, with food, reading materials, videos.” He says she has always been very caring to the staff.
Marian Lytle, who has returned to the library after years in the Rowan-Salisbury Schools, remembers that when she had foot surgery, Moxley called her every day. “I really looked forward to those calls,” Lytle says. “She saved me.”
Barton went on to say Moxley has tremendous dedication to excellent service, and her expertise as a reference library has been exceptional. “She has a steadfast commitment to be fair and honest,” he said, adding that her caring extended beyond her colleagues to community endeavors.
Moxley often works behind the scenes doing all sorts of things, from selecting audio/visual assets for the library to organizing trips with the Friends of the Library. You’ve seen her at various programs, standing to the side or introducing a speaker. She loved being involved in the Cheerwine Music Hour, booking acts to perform at the library.
“Really the highlight of my time here is this building,” Moxley says, spreading out her hands. “Sometimes I wonder how we worked in the old building. It was so much smaller.”
Moxley says it’s going to be hard not to come in every day. “I just can’t wrap my head around it.”
She started as a municipal field librarian, overseeing small libraries in China Grove, Rockwell, Faith and Landis. Then she became head of circulation in 1980; that turned into library manager, or the administrative services manager, which means she oversees information services, the reference desk, the computer lab and personnel.
Erica Kosin will take over Moxley’s position, sharing the title with Lytle, each looking after one of the branch libraries, as well as working at headquarters.
Moxley’s office already looks bare. She’s packed most of it in boxes, but paintings and awards still line the walls. A delivery of a balloon bouquet from a friend in Oklahoma seems to increase the oddness of the day.
Moxley won’t be gone, though. She’s still going to work with the Friends of the Library on trips, and she can come back in May to work as a substitute in the library. Her brother, David, lives in a group home in the area and they share a beagle, Toby, so Moxley has no plans to move.
She has lots of giving back planned. She’s taking Hospice training, and she’s going to volunteer with Rowan Helping Ministries in crisis assistance.
She’s going to travel. She already has three overseas trips planned. She’ll have more time to read. “I’ll get to the Y every day. At least I tell myself that.”
Moxley is proud of the reputation the library has around the state as one of the best libraries for its size. “It’s gratifying to be a part of that.
“We make a difference with a lot of people who live in the county, and the people I’ve worked with are really like family.
“I never had to worry about the way it is in the corporate world. I don’t think I’d do well in that situation.”
Times at the library have changed. “We have access to a lot more information. But you have to remember everything you see on the Internet isn’t true. You still need people trained in research to help people.”
It’s a lot easier to find information now than it was. “People still call for information, even if they have a computer at home. And people can use the computers here and we have the ability to print copies for just 10 cents per page.”
Moxley says bad economic times increase library usage and circulation. “People turn to libraries. … They still want the latest thing.”
The hardest part of her career has been the budget cuts, reducing hours and closing on Sundays.
It’s no surprise that Moxley likes to read and travel. “What do you do if you don’t read?” She also likes to cook and bake and looks forward to having time to do those things.
With her volunteer work, “I don’t plan to sit at home much.”
She also does audiobook reviews for various publications and websites and has won an award for her reviews. She likes audiobooks for when she’s driving or cooking. She always has one going.
“I love my job and I love the people. Some people are glad to retire. I see it as bittersweet.” She likes Salisbury and she hopes to see the area move out of the poverty situation it has fallen into.
She remembers a book she read that talks about the three lives a person has. The first one is the life of growing up, the second is marriage and career and the third is when you retire. “You look at it as an opportunity.
“Like my father said, I’d rather wear out than rust out.”
The library presented her a painted Betty Sedberry print of the Henderson Law Office, and Friends President Dale Basinger announced an endowment has been set up in her name with $1,000 and encouraged people to donate to the endowment.
Moxley, taking all the attention in stride, said, “The real gift is to be able to work with so many fantastic people and to be able to serve Rowan County.”