After 22 years of waking up before the sun, Cecil Brower, dedicated Library Technician Lead of the UW Tacoma Library, will be retiring at the end of this week, Friday, August 23.
Faithful, reliable and consistently dependable, Cecil was always prepared to greet students, faculty, staff, and visitors to our library as early as 7:00am.
Gifted with many talents and the ability to accomplish super-human tasks, (such as independently packing up 750 reels of microfilm as pictured above), the library will sorely miss him and the years of excellent service he’s given the UW Libraries and the UW Tacoma community.
Let’s see how his journey of working for the UW Tacoma Library really began. Below is a summary of my conversation with Cecil. Some of his responses have been paraphrased.
How did you begin your career here at the UW Tacoma Library?
“I first came to UW Tacoma in the Fall of 1997, as a transfer student from Tacoma Community College. I wasn’t looking for a job on campus at the time, but after talking with Tony Myers in Financial Aid, he suggested that I stop by the library and apply for a job. So I did, and that’s how it all began.
I started out as a student employee, then when a Library Technician 2 position opened up, I applied. Soon after I was promoted to Library Technician Lead.”
What type of work did you do?
“As a Library Technician Lead, also known as a Serials Lead, I was responsible for maintaining the UW Tacoma Library’s journal, newspaper, and serial subscriptions. I created and edited item records for our library unit here in Tacoma so that they would accurately reflect what we carry in the entire UW Library Catalog system.
I was also the contact, for persons who lost or damaged items and needed to replace them. Another responsibility, was to maintain our book collection or stacks, by shifting thousands of books to make room for more. You could say that I’m not afraid to break a sweat!”
What did you enjoy most about working in the library?
“I enjoyed seeing our first year students enter the library. In the beginning they would be overwhelmed and in awe, but as time went on, they would come out of their shell and become more comfortable and knowledgeable in finding resources. That was rewarding to see.”
What significant changes did you see, or experience in the library, or on campus over the past 22 years?
“Over these last 22 years, I’ve seen how our student body has grown significantly in numbers, from about 1,200 students to now over 5,000. Since 1997, I’ve seen the campus transform Tacoma, downtown, the museum district, and the waterway. Technology has also made an enormous impact. Cell phones changed from flip phones to smart phones. Does anyone remember Y2K?”
What things would you like to do now?
“Besides sleeping in, I’ll have more time to play the shamisen with the Kabuki Academy and to play music with my own local band, the Kings of Oblivion. I love the outdoors, so I’ll be kayaking. Another goal of mine is to hike the perimeter of Mt. Rainier, which is known as The Wonderland Trail. Returning to New Orleans, and to new places like Savannah, Georgia, with my wife Cherie, are also on my list, as well as traveling to Japan and China.”
What advice do you have for your colleagues who may continue to work for a number of years, and for those who may be looking at retirement soon?
“My advice would be to start your retirement plans early. There’s a lot to take into consideration from your healthcare plans to social security and other benefits. It’s good to attend one of the UW Retirement Benefits seminars offered in Seattle and also to connect with our UW Tacoma HR to help in your planning. If you’re continuing to work for a number of years, my advice would be to stay curious, and to live your life with compassion, and empathy!”
Thank you Cecil for all of the incredible, and historic work you’ve done in the library. We’ll miss you and wish you the very best as you fully enjoy the fruits of your labor! Congratulations on your retirement!