Today is both a day of happiness and sadness, for today, we celebrate the accomplishments of Marvin Smith, our Theological and General Services Librarian, who is about to retire. The happy part of the day comes when we take him out to lunch (shh, don’t tell him, it’s a surprise!). Below is some words of farewell he’s written to you, the people he’s helped over the years – enjoy!
These past five years brought me much joy.
My many relationships here at Palmer Theological Seminary and Eastern University fulfilled my hunger for an intimate, caring community. EU’s spiritually rich and intellectually challenging culture shaped my growth in Christ more than you can imagine. I rubbed shoulders with academic giants and with students asking profound, eternally focused questions about the Bible and theological trends. And you let me play with books! Working in the library felt like a full-time hobby. “Thank you,” sounds trite, but I really mean it!
My wife, Betty, and I plan to retire and relocate to Princeton, Minnesota this summer. Our daughter and family recently purchased a house there with an attached “in-law” apartment. While we don’t look forward to downsizing so that all our stuff will fit into this new apartment, we do anticipate hours of delightful interaction with our daughter and family. Our grandson finishes 7th grade and our granddaughter completes 5th grade next month. Our daughter teaches math and our son-in-law serves as a children’s pastor in Princeton. I intend to continue serving the church in my retirement. Writing gives me much satisfaction, so I want to continue writing about free-will and predestination issues in my blog. And I hope to stay physically active by cutting wood (it’s what they do up there in Minnesota).
My special thanks to Director Jim Sauer and the Warner Library staff. I arrived to work in the A. K. deBlois Library of Palmer Theological Seminary on September 5, 2013. During my first days, both Jeron Ashford and Jonathan Beasley patiently demonstrated library software and procedures. I valued their friendship and welcomed their input. If I achieved any success as a librarian, then I must acknowledge their impact on my service in those early months. Jonathan Beasley passed away last year; I lost a friend and a bibliographic mentor.
Any highlights for me as a librarian? Yes!! When Palmer Theological Seminary relocated to the EU campus in April & May 2016, the theological collection from the deBlois Library merged with Warner Library. This logistical challenge kept Jeron Ashford, Jim Sauer, Ted Merriman, me, and the Warner Library staff busy for months.
God has been good to me – and God works through people. I appreciate serving with Jeron Ashford, Joy Dlugosz, Andrea Reed (who transitioned last year) and now Chelsea Post. Support provided by Ellen Mergner and Ted Merriman goes beyond mere technical work to friendship. Our student library staff are gifted and talented people. As a leader, Jim Sauer exhibits competence with humility and wisdom. Each morning I look forward to working with each and all of these people. I found their energy and commitment to excellence quite contagious.
I enjoyed numerous conversations with seminary students that dealt not only with a paper due “tomorrow” but also with the concerns and victories of life. I helped a student research “gorge out right eye” from 1st Samuel 11:2. And shared my thoughts about which commentary I would recommend. And I talked about boundaries in ministry, about gender in God, about violence in the Old Testament, about Jesus in Book of James, about decline in Sunday Schools, about Barth’s idea of reconciliation. And so many more reference questions that became extended discussions – with friends.
And I will miss the faculties of Palmer Seminary and Eastern University. These precious people treated me with dignity and respect, not just as a “research assistant” to grab this book or retrieve that article from a journal. They invited me into their classrooms to share my understanding of biblical research and of the many complexities of scholarly investigation through bibliographic instruction.
As I transition from Warner Library, I will miss all of this… and so much more.
Categories: Life as a Librarian