Librarian retires, but she’ll be back helping Santa

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 5, 2019

By Laurie Lyda

Rowan Public Library

If you visit any of Rowan Public Library’s branches, then you have likely seen the children’s departments in action: Each one – headquarters (Salisbury), East (Rockwell), and South (China Grove) – is a bustling hub of creative energy that generates engaging and educational programming.

Children’s associate Pat Thorbergson has been a familiar face and an active part of that creative energy since 2005. Prior to joining RPL South’s children’s staff, she worked in the children’s room at RPL headquarters. Through her storytimes, outreach performances and other programming, she has educated and entertained countless Rowan County children. Now, after more than 13 years of service, Thorbergson has retired.

Her littlest patrons and their caretakers appreciate her patience, interest and care. The curiosity of a library’s youngest patrons – those who attend storytimes and the ones who excitedly discover new stories to read (or listen to or watch) – is contagious. Children’s staff – Thorbergson among them – are skilled at cultivating these experiences.

Many in the area also know Thorbergson for her very important work as Mrs. Claus. For years, she and her husband, Dusty, have appeared as Santa and Mrs. Claus at holiday events in the community, including those at RPL. Many observant children have had the joy of recognizing Mrs. Claus “undercover” at her library job, too.

I’ve known Thorbergson was planning her retirement for quite a while, though I’ve joked with her just as long that I was remaining in denial until her actual last day. Her last day finally came during Thanksgiving week.

RPL staff gathered to celebrate her and her contributions to RPL over the years. Several of her “babies” also came by during Thorbergson’s final shifts to wish her well. She and her family have exciting plans in the works, and we all hope that life brings her much joy and happiness.

Despite officially retiring from RPL, this year Thorbergson and her husband will again be involved in the library’s holiday programming. She will appear as Mrs. Claus, along with Santa, at the Winter Wonderland Storytimes that each RPL branch will host. In addition to a special storytime, these holiday-themed programs include crafts, games and refreshments.

All three Winter Wonderland Storytimes run approximately 90 minutes each, and for the last hour of each program, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be available to hear children’s wish lists and take pictures. RPL South will host its Winter Wonderland Storytime on Tuesday, Dec. 10, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.; RPL Headquarters will host on Thursday, Dec. 12, from 10:30 a.m. to noon; and RPL East will host on Saturday, Dec. 13, from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

The Winter Wonderland Storytimes are open to the public, and all ages are welcome. Everyone is encouraged to attend one of the holiday programs and see Santa and Mrs. Claus. For more information about RPL, visit

Cards for a Cause: Through Dec. 18, headquarters, East and South. Create holiday cards that will be delivered to active service members in the U.S. armed forces and to veterans at the Hefner VAMC in Salisbury. Dec. 6 is the deadline for cards distributed stateside. Cards submitted Dec. 7-18 will only be delivered to the VA. For more information, contact Tammie at 704-216-7842.

Gingerbread House Workshop: Dec. 10, 6-7 p.m., South. Test your construction skills at this holiday-themed workshop. Supplies provided. House-making begins at 6 p.m.; when finished, the houses will be displayed in the Meeting Room during the holiday program, “Winter Wonderland Storytime.” Afterwards, the builders can take their gingerbread constructions home.

Space is limited to 12 spots – individuals or teams (up to four members) are welcome. At least one team member must be age 16 or older. Call 704-216-7727 to register. Registered spots that haven’t been claimed by 6:30 p.m. will be released and filled on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Winter Wonderland Storytime: Dec, 10, 6:30-8 p.m., South; Dec. 12, 10:30 a.m.-noon, headquarters; Dec. 14, 10:30 a.m.-noon, East. All ages are welcome to attend this free program, which will include a storytime, crafts, games and refreshments. At South at 7 p.m., Santa & Mrs. Claus will be available to hear children’s wish lists and take pictures. For more information, call 704-216-7729. At headquarters at 11 a.m., Santa & Mrs. Claus will be available. For more information, call 704-216-8234. And at East at 11 a.m., Santa and Mrs. Claus will make their appearance. For more information, contact Tammie at 704-216-7842.

The Twelve Books of Christmas: Now through-Dec. 23, East. On the first day of Christmas, I saw at my library 12 books wrapped for a reader like me! Check out 12, pre-wrapped children’s books and have a surprise for each day before the holidays. This exciting spin on your regular check-out routine is available through Dec. 23. For more information, contact Tammie at 704-216-7842.

Scavenger Hunt: Holidays Around the World Dec. 2-30, headquarters and South. Can you find all of the symbols from all of the winter holidays that are celebrated around the world? Complete the challenge and get a prize! For more information, call 704-216-8234.

At East Dec. 2-31, Santa and his elves help to make the library a cheerful place. Find all the characters and be entered into a raffle contest for a literary-themed prize. For more information, contact Tammie at 704-216-7842.

Robojo Holiday Theatre: Dec. 7, 2 p.m., headquarters. RoBoJo Theatre Troupe returns to RPL for the 22nd annual presentation of Holiday Theatre. A group of talented local actors will join Headquarters’ Mr. Robert to perform an hour-long variety show that features skits, songs, reader’s theater and audience participation. All ages are welcome; a responsible caretaker (age 16+) must accompany children 8 and under. Questions? Call 704-216-8234.

Displays: Headquarters, Photowalk at Catawba College, presented by Paul Birkhead, also Rowan Helping Ministries display; East, “It’s a Wonderful Life Village,” by Tammy Foster; South, Christmas Dolls — History of Rowan County, Rowan Doll Society.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.