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Andrea Hunter Halgrimson, Published January 05 2014

Halgrimson: Two have called Fargo Public Library home for almost 50 years

Between the two of them, they have almost 100 years of employment at the Fargo Public Library. Diane Briggs began at the old Carnegie Library in 1967 and Steve Hubbard started there as a part-timer in 1966.

Briggs was born in Glendale, Calif., in 1943 and came to Fargo with her family in 1950 and attended Fargo public schools, North Dakota State University and Minnesota State University at Moorhead.

Hubbard was born in Bismarck in 1949 and came to Fargo in 1957. He, too, attended Fargo schools and graduated from NDSU in 1971.

The library has gone through many changes. The first library building was opened in 1903 at 625 2nd Ave. N. It was funded by one of 19th-century industrialist Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropies. An addition to the north side of the building was constructed in 1930, almost doubling its size. The library was razed in 1970.

The second library at 102 3rd St. N., opened in 1968. It was razed, and the current building was opened on the same site in 2008.

Briggs has held a variety of jobs. She began as a library associate at the circulation desk and then moved to the reference desk in the years when books were the only resources. When someone called to ask if the Mona Lisa had been stolen and if it was ever returned, she said she really had to dig. She also was able to help an adoptee find her birth mother.

She spent 10 years as a librarian in the children’s department, where she became an amateur puppeteer making her own puppets. They were often used in conjunction with storytelling.

For many years, Briggs was in charge of the library’s outreach and volunteer services and for the past five years or so, she returned to the reference desk, now, of course, with computers and the Internet to assist her in answering questions.

A while ago, she received an email from a man in France who wore an MIA bracelet of a World War II soldier. He wanted some information on the man and a photo if possible. Briggs found some biographical material and a high school yearbook photo that she forwarded to the Frenchman.

Hubbard’s memories of the old Carnegie library include the summer he took inventory in 100-degree temperatures. The building was not air-conditioned.

Before access to the Internet, someone called to ask him how many calories were in the glue on a postage stamp. He had to contact the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing to answer that one.

And he remembered counting the books he returned to the library shelves during one 18-month period. It added up to more than 100,000.

As a reference librarian, Hubbard believes there is no such thing as a stupid question.

When the library went to computers and the old card catalog was discarded in 1992, Hubbard picked out one card to save. The title on the card was “Bet They’ll Miss Us When We’re Gone” by Marianne Wiggins.

While computers have changed the library, there has also been an increase in the kinds of materials offered to the public. It isn’t just books anymore, but DVDs, CDs, electronic books and books on tape, and I suppose those last two are still considered books.

There are now auxiliary libraries at Northport Shopping Center on North Broadway and the James Carlson Library at 2801 32nd Ave. S.

And I’ve been informed that a reference librarian is now known as an information services librarian.