Library Volunteer Establishes Attitude for Institution

BROCKWAY, Pa. (EYT) – Francis Patricia “Pat” Erickson worked for many years at Mengle Memorial Library, setting the tone of the type of library Mengle would become.

Her recent passing left the library staff pondering her contribution to the community in general and the library in particular.

“She actually worked for the library years before I started,” Librarian Darlene Marshall said. “She was one of the first staff members I started out with. She never officially retired. She was so connected to the library, so she couldn’t give up working. She worked until she couldn’t work anymore.”

Erickson passed away in January at age 93.

Pat Erickson (right) at Mengle Memorial Library

Marshall said people described Erickson as a “walking encyclopedia,” but that was only part of what Erickson did for the library. She knew where every book was on the shelves, figured out what the library needed to order, and made sure she got to know the regulars so she could suggest books for them.

“She was very sharp and intelligent,” Marshall said. “She always came off as a sweet, gentle, serving person. She was really there for people and really there for people. Not everyone gets to go to work with someone who is so wonderful every day. At the library, we always strive to be happy and welcoming people. People like Pat.”

Marshall said that Erickson’s long presence in the library shaped the way the library runs. Everyone at Mengle Memorial Library wants to be welcoming and get to know the people who come in. Marshall said that people come back to the library saying that they loved the way they were treated.

One of the duties Erickson did for the library was Books in Memory. This is a process that someone can donate to the library to have a book dedicated to a loved one who passed away.

“She did the memorials because she knew everyone,” Marshall said. “She catalogued the books and matched up the memorial to the person.”

The book that Marshall picked in Erickson’s memory was a book called On Humility.

“Humility is a great gift in a leader, and Pat had it,” Marshall said. “When you hang out with somebody like that, they really do shape your life. You want to be more of a servant, be there for people. You also have to listen to people and respond to what they need.”

Marshall said there have been many Books in Memory given to the library over the years. The process to do this is to make a donation to the library. Mengle Memorial Library has a memorial fund for books, so a small donation of $5 could be used toward purchasing a book. The library sends a memorial card to the family. If the donation is larger, like the full cost of a new hardcover book, not only is a memorial card sent to the family, but a memorial market is placed inside the book.

Marshall tries to continue Erickson’s goal of matching the book to the patron.

“We try to match up the book with the person,” Marshall said. “We have a lady that reads a lot of mysteries, so when her husband passed away, she donated a mystery book. There have been a significant number of Books in Memory given, and I’m sure there will be more.”

Many libraries do Books in Memory. Marshall said that donating a book in someone’s name is a unique way to show grieving family members you are thinking about them.

“Don’t just get a sympathy card,” Marshall said. “Go to the library, get a memorial, and make a lasting memory for that person.”

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