Chief librarian Beth Barlow (left) will hand over the reins to deputy chief Melanie Houlden Dec. 30.

Top Surrey librarian set to retire

Beth Barlow getting ready to pass the torch after nearly four decades of working in libraries.

Longtime Surrey librarian Beth Barlow is passing the torch.

Barlow, chief librarian for Surrey Public Library for the past 11 years, is to retire from the helm Dec. 30 to work on her bucket list, travel – and read.

An active member of Semiahmoo Rotary club and winner of the Surrey Board of Trade’s 2011 Surrey Women in Business Award for a Not-for Profit Corporation, the Cloverdale resident has spent nearly 40 years as a librarian. She came to Surrey in January 2001, following a career that took her across all three Prairie provinces.

Her years in Surrey, however, “were the most satisfying and enjoyable of my career,” Barlow said.

Barlow said her proudest moment as a librarian came just two months ago, with the grand opening of the City Centre Library, at 10350 University Dr.

Other highlights include welcoming the country’s first “green” library – Semiahmoo Library – which opened in South Surrey in September 2003.

Barlow has chaired the Surrey/White Rock Community Literacy Planning Table since its 2007 inception; and was recognized this year with a Director’s Award from the Association of B.C. Public Library Directors. She is also a Paul Harris Fellow.

Longtime deputy chief librarian Melanie Houlden is to take over as chief librarian. Houlden, who lives in New Westminster, has worked for SPL since 1983; as deputy chief for the past decade.

Houlden will step into her new role effective Jan. 1. Competition for the job was “pretty hot,” she said.

“It went nationwide. There was some international resumes.”

 

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