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Southeast Turns 20!

Documents from Southeast Grand Opening in 1997.

Twenty years ago this October Southeast Regional Library opened! A beloved neighborhood library, it has been host to many wonderful projects, events, and memories. To highlight the branch we’re taking a trip down memory lane with the fabulous Clerical Supervisor Debra Wainwright, who has been with Southeast for twelve of those twenty years.

A woman with a grounded personality and creative spirit, Debra has been an asset to JPL for the past 29 years. She started out as a storytime personality in the Children’s Department at Main and became the first Clerical Supervisor in the system in 2005. When asked which branch she’d like to be stationed at she didn’t hesitate when she requested Southeast. She watched Southeast being built and knew that it  was
the branch she wanted to work at, Debra has been with Southeast ever since. Through branch anniversaries, tough cuts to branch hours and exciting renovations she has been a rock - and a rock star- at Southeast. 

Debra with Iron Man in the Southeast Teen Room.

Throughout the years there have been many changes at Southeast, most notably a fabulous renovation that included freshening up the branch, the addition of a Teen Room, and the customer named Bookie Monster! Similar to a self-checkout machine, Bookie is an automated book drop for checking in books and is a novelty for avid library lovers. Simply present books, CDs, and DVDs to Bookie and it will make sure that your materials are checked in properly. Then, watch as your materials take a ride on the conveyor belt and are sorted to go back onto the correct shelf.



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However, fancy gadgets do not make a branch successful. It comes down to the staff and as a Clerical Supervisor, part of Debra’s job is training new staff. It’s something that she takes very seriously; when she speaks about her staff you can tell she really cares about them and their families. Debra’s caring personality has fostered a great environment at the Southeast library. With Debra, customer service reigns supreme, her philosophy is “do whatever you can do that makes you a better employee or a better person.” No service is too big or too small to provide customer satisfaction.  From delivering books to handicapped customers in their cars when it’s raining or helping teens and children with questions or book recommendations she and her staff are happy to help. As a library representative, you can’t find a more passionate person. “I really love my job,” says Debra. With such a passionate person in charge of onboarding new staff, it’s no wonder the Southeast library has an excellent reputation for customer service.

Debra loves working with kids too, she is an excellent story time reader!

In 2007 Debra was at Southeast for the 10 year anniversary. With two anniversaries under her belt, she has a unique perspective on the future of Southeast. When asked about that future she’s thoughtful. “We have a lot more to offer now with all of our programs … the computer classes … and I’ve seen them add Computer Labs and the Center for Adult Learning and space for teens to call their own.” These programs and more make up a place where the community can really blossom and Southeast is a valuable part of that mission to bring resources to all.

As for Debra’s own future, she’s looking forward to retirement but she can’t imagine no longer being part of Southeast. She laughs saying, “You know, I love shelving! Maybe I’ll just be a part-time shelver!” Well, we’d be happy to keep Debra on board for as long as we can! Who knows, in another 20 years you might still be able to find Debra amongst the stacks!

To find out how you can support the library and celebrate Southeast 20th Anniversary on October 21st check out the event on Facebook or visit our website.

Jacksonville Public Library