This week will bring us out of the holiday season and mark the beginning of a new year. Before we all get into the projects and activities planned for 2012, I would like to tell you more about my background.
When I finished my bachelor’s degree, President Carter was still in office and there were not a lot of jobs available. My dad gave me a job in his architectural practice working as a draftsman. I stayed there for about year, but I was not cut out to work at a drawing board.
I took a job in a restaurant in Charlotte and decided if I was going to wait tables, it might as well be somewhere nice. So I saved my money, loaded up my little Toyota Corolla, and moved to Key West. I planned to work through the tourist season and come home in the spring to find a “real job.” Even the best laid plans seldom come to pass. My first day in Key West, I met the young man who was later to become my husband. We dated for about one month and got married.
My husband and I had two boys and for the next several years my life was devoted to taking care of the babies. We moved to North Carolina and bought a home in Statesville, near my parents. I worked for various businesses part-time until both of the children were old enough to attend school. I was working for a printing shop when my husband learned about an opportunity at a new reprographics company in Hickory. I applied and got the job. The reprographics industry caters to the printing and plan distribution needs of the architectural, engineering, and construction industries. I was the junior member of a two-member crew. After two years, my co-worker quit and took a job with our direct competitor. I told the owner of the company that I thought we could compete and that I would stay and manage the shop. It turned out that we were very competitive. Two years later I bought the business.
I named my little company Rocket Reprographics and we did business in the Hickory Unifour area for 10 years. Reprographics is a technology driven customer service industry. I learned to manage the paperwork and taxes that kept the business legal. I hired and trained front line customer service staff, I negotiated equipment purchase agreements, and somehow I found the reserves to pay the necessary service contracts that kept it all running. It was quite an education.
When my boys finished high school and moved out of the house, I began to think about a career change. I had not really considered libraries until one day I heard Diane Rhem interview the president of the American Library Association. I realized that librarianship would draw upon the skills that I had developed as a small business owner. Before the day was out, I had scheduled an appointment to take the GRE and the next chapter had begun.
I earned my masters in Library and Information Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro while still owning the reprographics shop. I promoted my best employee into the management spot and I continued to take care of the paperwork and sales while he kept production moving. Having a key employee trained at that level proved to be instrumental in selling my business. I sold the shop in September and graduated in December of 2007. I have worked as a librarian for Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, The School of Communication Arts, and Central Piedmont Community College.
I truly love libraries and what they stand for. My goal in the coming year is to become more involved in this community and to collaborate to make our library services the best that they can be.
— Catie Roche is the Director of the Robeson County Public Library. You can reach her at email@example.com.