After 30 years, Yosemite High librarian Janell Balaguy will file her last book away, turn off her last school computer, assist her last student, and lock up the library for the last time as she steps into her new career - retirement.
Hired in October 1986 as a part-time tutor by Bill McCabe and Jerry Livesey, Balaguy worked out of the Career Center, which housed the library, all the administrators and a typing class.
“I can still hear Mr. Raupp say ‘ready ... begin,’ and then there was the sound of typewriters clacking away,” Balaguy recalled.
The following year, she worked as a Career Center tech, organizing college rep and recruiter visits, planning school-wide Career Fairs, and running resume workshops and interest inventories.
Because of her love of books and reading, combined with her interest in those new-fangled “computers,” she applied and was hired for the library tech position four years later.
“I worked for more than 20 years with Betsy Blum, the school’s teacher librarian,” Balaguy said. “Those were great years, and she was a wonderful teacher. When she left five years ago I took her place, but could never fill her shoes.
“People often ask how I could spend so many years doing the same job,” she continued. “My answer is that every day was a brand new day. Anything could and did happen in library land. It was fast paced, interesting, filled with students and teachers, and always new challenges. It has been amazing just to see how technology has changed the face of education. There was no time to be bored.”
Balaguy teases that she’s not sure how she’s supposed to feel at the moment, given that she’s never retired before. But she is certain of all that she will leave behind and miss once she leaves the YHS campus.
“I will miss seeing the new freshmen come through each year, and watching them grow and mature,” Balaguy said. “I will miss the daily excitement and celebrations of victories and successes. I will miss being able to give a kind word and a hug to someone who needs it.”
Those hugs will now be taken up mainly by family. Post-retirement, she plans on traveling in a renovated vintage travel trailer with her husband, Gary. She has one daughter who lives in Oakhust, and three sons living out of the area. Her ninth grandchild is expected to arrive in late July.
She also plans on becoming more involved in community activities, as well as with her church, EV Free; plus, being the true librarian that she is, a lot of reading is in her future.
“It was a dream to be able to work where all four of my children attended school, and sometimes knowing what they were doing before they even knew it,” Balaguy explained. “My heart will always be at YHS, but it’s time for someone with more energy and younger eyes to take over and have a wonderful career.”
Sherri Dominici, who has known Balaguy for five years, will take over in the head librarian position.
“She’s the best person ever, and I will definitely miss her,” Dominici said, “but I’ll probably call her everyday with some made-up excuse for her to come see me.”
Believing the transition will be a smooth one, Balaguy offers some sound words of advice to Dominici: “Be adaptable. Flexibility in the workplace is the key to happiness and longevity. Build relationships. YHS is home to some of the best people on earth. And keep loving on the kids. For many, the library is their home away from home. Don’t stress if you can’t please everyone all of the time, and remember, you have one of the best jobs in the world.”
She followed with words of wisdom taken to heart worldwide.
“Enjoy every moment because it goes by way too fast.”