Kathy McNeilly is retiring after serving as director of the Oak Ridge Public Library for 19 years—and working for the City of Oak Ridge for more than 47 years.
Friends, family, and City of Oak Ridge staff celebrated McNeilly’s “amazing career” in a ceremony in the library auditorium on Friday, June 15, a city press release said.
McNeilly received a master’s degree in library science from the University of Tennessee. She was hired by the City of Oak Ridge in 1971 as a reference assistant, just a few months after the library’s new location opened its doors in the Oak Ridge Civic Center, the press release said. Since then, she has served as head of the Reference Department, head of Technical Services, and as assistant library director before taking on her role as director nearly 20 years ago.
“In her time with the library, McNeilly has watched services change from print-based to computer, and she was instrumental in guiding the library through many technological changes,” the press release said. “Most recently, she helmed the library’s inclusion of e-books and streaming video. McNeilly is perhaps most proud, however, of the library’s work with COROH (Center for Oak Ridge Oral History). Under her guidance, the library has been able to collect, bind, and make available online the oral histories of more than 800 Oak Ridgers whose lives and work helped create the Oak Ridge of today.”
McNeilly also witnessed one of the most beautiful cosmetic upgrades at the library beginning in 2003 with the addition of stained glass windows, the press release said. Individual windows—funded by donations from private citizens, local companies, and other groups—now grace transoms above the entrances and replaced the windows in the magazine area. Windows titled “A Lifetime of Reading” circle the clerestory in the center of the library and gorgeously celebrate the value and pleasures of reading, the press release said.
At the retirement celebration on Friday, McNeilly received cards and mementos, including a piece of pottery by a local artist and a necklace presented by Interim Library Director Julie Forkner. The necklace’s charm, engraved with McNeilly’s years of service, is a tradition among longtime library employees, presented to those who have given 25 or more years of service. During the gathering, City Council members Kelly Callison and Jim Dodson also read a proclamation honoring McNeilly that had been presented at their most recent meeting.
McNeilly said she and her husband Greg plan to stay in Oak Ridge during retirement.
“They are looking forward to traveling and enjoying more free time together,” the press release said.
McNeilly plans to continue her work with the library as a volunteer, particularly with the COROH project, the release said.
“Please join us in thanking Kathy McNeilly for her many years of service to our wonderful public library and wishing her well in retirement,” the press release said.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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