Plumb Library director to retire this month

Jun 14, 2022

ROCHESTER – After 44 years working in libraries, Gail Roberts is closing the book on her position as library director at the Joseph H. Plumb Memorial Library in Rochester.

“I’m 68. I’ve been working in libraries since I was 16. It was time,” Roberts said.

Roberts grew up in Mattapoisett and attended Old Rochester Regional High School before heading west to Drexel University in Philadelphia to get her degree in library science.

Throughout her career, she’s worked at libraries in Philadelphia, New Bedford, Marion, Brookline, and finally, Rochester.

When a position opened up in Rochester 15 years ago, Roberts said that applying felt like a “natural step.” She said that many of her old friends from the Tri-Town were not at all surprised to see her take the position as director.

Roberts says she’s proud of a lot of the renovations the Plumb Library has gotten done during her tenure, such as the newly renovated basement for program space.

She also mentioned the My Own Backyard project, where she worked with library directors in Marion and Mattapoisett to put together packs full of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics programs for families to borrow and share.

During the pandemic, Roberts said that, “you have really had to think on your feet and be nimble.” The Plumb Library added online services, organized their own method of curbside book pick-up, and set up “grab and go” boxes of free books at the gazebo outside.

“People really liked that,” she said. “The staff here is really great, they’re creative and innovative.”

Roberts had great things to say about working in the town of Rochester.

“The town government is very supportive of the library,” she said, mentioning that the town officials trust them and are supportive of any projects the library proposes.

She also said that she enjoys all the outdoor space the Plumb Library has, which makes it great for summer programs.

Roberts’ last day is June 30, and she will overlap with the new director, Jennifer Woodward, who previously worked at the Falmouth Public Library.

“I’ve enjoyed every minute of this job,” said Roberts. “It’s been my pleasure to work for this town.”

As for her next chapter, Roberts isn’t sure yet. She says she’s going to take the rest of the year to enjoy her time off and figure it out.

“My cats will enjoy having me home,” she said, adding that the animals would get a lot more afternoon snacks.

The Plumb Library will send Roberts off with a party on June 23rd from 2 to 7 p.m. Light refreshments will be served and a memory book will be provided for those that would like to share their well wishes.