NORMAN — Norman Public Library Children’s Manager Basha Hartley recently announced her retirement. A reception honoring her career will be from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday in the library’s children’s department, 225 N. Webster Ave.
For more than a quarter-century, Basha Hartley has been a fixture in serving Norman through her efforts at the Norman Public Library.
Now after a career of almost 26 years of service, including the previous 21 as children’s services manager at the library, she is moving on to retirement and some new chapters in her life.
“Children are the treasure of the community,” she said. “You want to make the library a destination for kids and families.”
Hartley has been a longtime member of the Mountain Plains Library Association and also is active in various groups around Norman, including the Children’s Rights Commission for the city of Norman, the Red Ribbon Week Coalition and a longtime member of the Norman Rotary Club, where she had the chance to go to Finland as part of a Rotary Group Study Exchange.
While she was there, she visited as many libraries as she could.
“Few libraries in the United States would hold up to the smallest libraries in Finland,” she said. “They have fantastic libraries, and I learned a lot (that) I was able to bring back here.”
Her compassion goes beyond just helping children find the beauty of the library’s book collection to the relationships she has made.
“The most important resource a library has is not the books, it’s the staff. If you don’t have a great staff that makes people feel welcome, then the books are useless,” she said. “I’ve been really fortunate to have had a great staff that cares about our kids and families.”
Hartley’s future plans involve children in her family and some travels. She will have more time to see her son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren in Sweden, where her daughter-in-law grew up.
Plans are in the works for a permanent sculpture in Hartley’s honor to be placed in the children’s department. Those attending the reception or anyone who wishes to contribute financially to the display may do so by donating to the Pioneer Library System Foundation.