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    • DuBois enjoys a day of gardening in a field of wild violets.

    • DuBois and her husband pose for a picture with their motorcycles.

DuBois Departs After 23 Years

Shriya Sakalkale '24 Lead Arts Editor
After 23 years on the Hill, Librarian Debbie DuBois bids farewell to Hopkins as she prepares to retire. 
DuBois’s journey as a librarian started long before her time at Hopkins, and she describes the various facets of her job that she has grown to love. It started with her hometown public library, as DuBois shares, “My ancestors started [it]… so yes [it has been] in my blood for a long time.” From there, DuBois went on to work in her town’s elementary school library. Eventually, she was presented with the opportunity to work at Hopkins, and she never looked back. Though DuBois sees herself as more of a nonfiction reader, she thoroughly enjoys the mysteries she solves when “learning all kinds of new things that students come to inquire about,” as she sees the research she does while helping students as a “treasure hunt.” Says DuBois, “[My] favorite part of being a librarian is working with individual students and watching them make new discoveries about the topics they have chosen.” 

DuBois’s love for research is also reflected in her hobbies, as she talks about the various activities that keep her busy on and off campus. One of DuBois’s many hobbies is gardening, and she shares her deep admiration for the landscape of the Hill: “I love to garden and landscape my own house so I am always looking for inspiration when I see all the perennials come up in the spring and how the trees and shrubs change in the fall. It is a beautiful campus.” DuBois describes one of her favorite things to do on campus as, “[being] outside. [I love] walking or sitting on the patio [and] watching the grounds as they change through the seasons.” In addition to her green thumb, Dubois currently occupies her time off campus with her renovations of an 1820s farmhouse.

As part of her process of restoring this farmhouse, she is “always on the hunt for antiques, architectural salvage, and period-appropriate collectibles,” quite similar to the work she does helping students DuBois often finds herself at flea markets, estate, and tag sales as she searches for items that she can, “reuse, repair, and restore.” But perhaps most notably, DuBois loves this project as it presents her the opportunity to, “learn history especially as it relates to family ancestry” — something that drove her to become a librarian in the first place.

DuBois holds many memories and experiences from her more than two decades at Hopkins. One specific moment she shares is the time when the library was undergoing renovations and was temporarily relocated into the old gym, now home to the school’s squash center. She recollects: “We had a lot of fun when we moved the library into the old gym. I really enjoyed being so close to the Junior School, which at that time was the old Davis-Prospect Hill building. At times, we’d laugh about the echo in the dome of the building.” Another memory DuBois shared was from when mold was discovered in the walls of Calarco, and they were forced yet again to relocate — this time to Heath Commons. DuBois concedes, “I’m not sure if these were really favorite moments but [they were] certainly standout moments.”

DuBois’s fellow librarians have many fond memories of their time working with her.  James Gette, Head Librarian, has looked to DuBois as a mentor: “She was my mentor when I first came to Hopkins, and she was fantastic — always willing to answer questions and show me how things were done.” Gette also talks about the “craziness” during his first year, recollecting the difficulties that came with that first semester as, “the library was closed due to mold, so it was extra hard to get the hang of things — imagine teaching AC1 classes in Heath.” Despite the challenges that came with that year, Gette remembers those times fondly and even jokes about how, “Mrs. DuBois has a plush mold spore [to remember that time] in her office to this day.” 

Despite only having started at Hopkins late last year, Hopkins Librarian Beth Cutler echoes Gette’s fondness of DuBois. She says: “In my short tenure, Mrs. DuBois has been a great resource for institutional knowledge here in Calarco. She has shared this wealth of knowledge on everything from our system of cataloging new titles in the library to the more big-picture evolution of Hopkins in general over the years. I’ve appreciated the opportunity to know her and have access to her experience for the last year.” 

DuBois’s fellow librarians noted that they will miss her knowledge and love for research. Specifically, Gette cited DuBois’s Descriptive Cataloging project spearheaded during her time at Hopkins, which aimed to, “improve our catalog records and make it easier to find books.” The project was such a success that DuBois was even invited to present an overview of the work at an independent library conference. Apart from the, “wealth of experience and knowledge” that DuBois will take with her, the thing Gette will miss most is the hours spent, “sitting in the workroom with Mrs. DuBois, covering books and chatting about her grand kids.”
Though she will miss Hopkins, DuBois looks forward to retirement and the journey that awaits her. For DuBois, her departure is because of, “a change in priorities.” Her family is a central reason for her decision to retire, as she wishes to devote more time to family: “I have a 90-year-old mom that I take care of. I also have several grandchildren, [and] I love going to watch their ball games and hang[ing] out with them.” DuBois jokingly mentions her dog: “I have a Goldendoodle that is very demanding too. He loves to go for long walks.” 

DuBois also noted that she has plans for a road trip with her husband: “We both are motorcyclists and are planning a road trip. It is our favorite way to travel and see our great country.  We love traveling the back roads and meeting new people.” 

Apart from family and road trips, DuBois is not entirely sure what else is in store for her. She states, “I’m pretty sure I will keep myself busy.” DuBois shares a quote from Don Bagnall, Director of Medical Services, Head Athletic Trainer for Sports Medicine, who also announced his retirement this year: “Don Bagnall said, ‘Just say you’re taking a break.’ Those are great words of wisdom.”
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Asher Joseph

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