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Library, city employee retires after more than 28 years of service

Library, city employee retires after more than 28 years of service
Anita Bruggeman, right center, was greeted by well-wishers Bonnie Rietz, left, Cheryl Hays and Regina Bauer at a retirement celebration at the Austin Public Library Thursday. Bruggeman is retiring after 28 years at the library.

Anita Bruggeman wasn't even officially retired yet from her more than 28 years with the city of Austin and the Austin Public Library, and her presence was already missed.

An open-house reception was held in honor of Bruggeman's retirement Thursday afternoon at the library. There was cake, punch and visitors could also leave their well-wishes to Bruggeman by signing frames around two pictures of the library.

But parties and events such as this and the details were usually Bruggeman's area. Now, the library staff had to take care of all the details for the reception, something Bruggeman used to handle.

"She was missed immediately," said library director Ann Hokanson.

Bruggeman has worked for 40 years in Austin altogether, 16 were spent in the finance department with the city and 12 at the library where she did processing, public relations, student and adult reading contests, and was the summer reading program coordinator.

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She was also in charge of big events and projects at the library, and "whatever needed to be done," she said.

The summer reading program, in particular, was successful and record-setting this past summer. A total of 1,069 kids signed up to be part of the program, compared with 2010 when 826 kids participated. Bruggeman kept the treasure chest of prizes stocked for the kids, and didn't turn anyone away even after the program had officially ended for the summer.

Bruggeman said she gave a lot of her own time for her work with the reading program, and she hopes the library will continue with it.

"I enjoy working with children and I enjoy seeing the smiles on their faces," Bruggeman said. "I really feel like I'm going out on a high. It's just given me a thrill."

Many formers mayors, former city administrators, former city staff and former finance department people were among those who stopped by Thursday to wish her well. A lot of kids also came up and thanked her, too, she said.

"It means a lot," Bruggemman said. "Right now, I'm pretty humbled."

Bruggeman said she will miss the customer service part of her job at the library, and she will miss the staff. As she moves on, she will be helping out with the Smithsonian traveling exhibit "Why Treaties Matter: Self-Government in the Dakota and Ojibwe Nations" at Riverland Community College.

She also plans to take a trip sometime this winter, but then she'll be looking for something to occupy her time, she said.

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As for the library, they don't have immediate plans for someone else to step in and fill Bruggeman's shoes, Hokanson said. "It'll be different," Hokanson said. "You can move on. You can never replace somebody."

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