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More Than a Librarian


The little library is usually bulging from children attending the art projects on Wednesdays or Storytime on Thursdays. She maintains contact with children turned into teenagers and recruits them for the Youth Advisory Committee which is responsible for many library sponsored activities such as the yearly Art Contest and Show.

Jane Husmann Ward was born in Champagne, Illinois. After WWII, Jane's father became a student at the University of Illinois where he earned a degree in Physics. The Husmanns along with Jane, the oldest of six children, four sisters (Carol, Nancy, Kitty, Lisa) and one brother (David) eventually moved to Los Altos, California, where Jane¹s dad became the Chief Engineer at the Kodak Processing Lab in Palo Alto, California. Jane went to school in Los Altos with the exception of her Freshman year of High School when the family lived in Los Angeles for a year. She graduated from Los Altos High School in 1967.

Jane's mother, a full time stay-at-home mom, went back to nursing after the youngest daughter, Lisa, started high school. "Now that I think about it," says Jane, "Most of my family are involved in the medical field. Carol is a Nursing Administrator at Los Gatos Hospital where she manages the Home Care Program; Kitty is a Physical Therapist. My brother works for NASA as an engineer; Nancy is a Nurse Supervisor in a hospital and Lisa is doing research in Hong Kong. She has a PhD in geography and a Masters in Asian Studies. One of my father's goals was to have all his children complete college," says Jane. "Education was a priority in our family and that's why I felt it was important that my children get a college education. We grew up with lots of books and no TV to speak of," continues Jane. "My Dad told us the TV was broken, but we got used to not having it after a couple of days." Jane laughs, "We found out years later that he took the tube out of the TV. It was fun to grow up in a big family and I was like a second mother since I was the oldest."

Jane met her husband, Jim through a church youth group while attending High School. "My youngest sisters can't remember not knowing him," chuckled Jane. "I was in the third graduating class of UC Santa Cruz and majored in history." Jim and Jane got married after graduating from college in 1971. She went on to get her teacher's credential from San Jose State. Her first year as a kindergarten teacher was in Soledad. Following that year, she and Jim decided to take an 8-month tour of Europe before they settled down to have a family. "We slept on trains and had a wonderful time finally seeing first hand the history we studied in school."

When they returned from their 8-month trip, Jane taught in Sunnyvale until she became pregnant with her first child. Following her mother's lead, she didn't go back to teaching until her second child was six years old. At this time they moved to Aromas. She then taught for ten years in Watsonville at a private school. Her daughter, Elizabeth who is now 27 is in her 4th year of medical school at UC San Francisco and got married last summer. Her son, Andrew, 23 just got a degree from UC Santa Barbara in geography. Both went to Aromas School though grade school.

"I've always loved books and kids," explained Jane. "I started substituting in the afternoons at the Aromas Library after my kids started Junior High. The librarian in Aromas asked if I would like to be on the substitute list, so I started working in the afternoons once in a while at the library and continued to teach in the mornings. This was a perfect combination," continued Jane. "When a librarian position became available, I applied and got the job. I work 20 hours at the library and 20 hours at headquarters in Salinas managing the Books by Mail Program. Most folks know about the library activities, but I don't think enough people know about the Books by Mail Program. It's designed for people who are home bound and people who live a long distance from a branch. This gives us a way we can service the whole county. A lot of patrons live in remote areas. We also send to elderly people, the blind and home schoolers who live in remote areas. We send books to Tassahara, Zen Mountain Center, a Buddhist retreat, to the Hermitage in Big Sur as well as the Carmelite Monastery. We have books on tape and books with large print that are sent to the blind. The books are mailed postage free both ways. Service is available to anyone. We help people pick out books and offer reference research to the home bound as well."

You can find Jane involved in all kinds of activities in Aromas especially if children and books are concerned. Aromas is very proud of Jane and all that she has accomplished at the Aromas Branch. The little library is usually bulging from children attending the art projects on Wednesdays or Storytime on Thursdays. She maintains contact with children turned into teenagers and recruits them for the Youth Advisory Committee which is responsible for many library sponsored activities such as the yearly Art Contest and Show. Jane brought a group of teens to MMPublishing one day for technical assistance in creating a teen website. The staff at MMPublishing has adopted her group and has lent its support for this project. Other teens in other villages and towns have asked for similar help because of the success of Jane's program. Jane works hard with the Friends of the Library Organization to promote the Library, fundraising, and to provide research tools for the branch. The small library can boast about a bank of computers linked to the internet over a T1 line, A Friends of the Library website, a teen website, evening presentations, puppet shows, volunteers to read to kids. It doesn't have time to boast as it modestly goes about its business to serve the community.

If you can't find Jane at the library, you might find her gardening putting in drought resistant plants at her house or maybe out on a lake sailing with her family. END

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