Leslie Clague – literally ‘the librarian from Hollywood’ – has retired as Kapiti’s chief librarian after presiding over huge changes in services for some 30,000 readers on the Coast.
Ms Clague,who has been in charge of the three main Kapiti libraries for five years, decided to retire after a period of ill health.
An immediate tribute to Ms Clague came from the Friends of the Kapiti Coast Libraries who said:”The District owes a huge debt of gratitude to Leslie Clague for her inspired work and leadership in a time of crucial changes in the libraries.”
American by birth, Leslie was born and bred in Hollywood. She started working life a travel writer, but retrained as a librarian after being inspired by a talk given by a public librarian in her hometown.
More than 30 years and a change of country later, she became chair of Public Libraries of New Zealand, and came to the Kapiti Coast to take over as District Librarian.
‘Led the way with new services’
During her five years at the Libraries helm, Ms Clague led the way with the introduction of free internet services; with free wireless access for laptops; and with the provision of a new computer system for the libraries. Under her watch the libraries received a steady increase in new book stocks, magazines, DVD’s, and other library services.
She enjoyed a particularly close relationship with the main users’ group, the Friends of the Kapiti Coast District Libraries.
‘A firm believer in the importance of public libraries’
Ms Clague says she’s always been a firm believer in the importance of public libraries, ‘particularly the fact that they offer users a chance to learn whatever they want to learn, and read whatever they want to read.’
As well as being a keen reader herself, Leslie is also a published author. ‘Right Out of the Box’ – available in most public libraries – tells the story of moving from Hollywood to her first New Zealand home at Kaukapakapa, north of Auckland.
The KCDC says Ms Clague has chosen to retire from her role as District Libraries Manager ‘for personal reasons.’
But the decision follows several operations for hip problems, which meant she had to have extended periods of leave at a time when the libraries have been undergoing more major changes.
She says: “I certainly enjoyed my five years as district libraries’ manager and particularly enjoyed working with the Friends of the Libraries.”
Waikanae Library Manager Gordon Cameron will be Acting District Libraries Manager pending recruitment of a replacement for Leslie.
Recruiting for a replacement will begin shortly.