Closing the book on a storied library career

Return to Table of Contents

By Liz Premo

Hampton Union , March 25, 2016

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]


Bill Teschek
Bill Teschek recreates the photo that was published in the Hampton Union in May 1979 with the
announcement he was asked to write about joining the Lane Memorial Library staff.
[Liz Premo photo]

 HAMPTON — It’s merely a comical coincidence that Bill Teschek, 58, will be officially retiring from his position at the Lane Memorial Library on April Fools’ Day.

“Everyone jokes I’m going to come in April 1st and say, ‘Just kidding!’” he laughed.

All kidding aside, Teschek is indeed preparing to close the book on a storied library career, taking his co-workers somewhat by surprise with his announcement back in early January.

The news brings to an end a professional association that spans close to 37 years, an era during which he witnessed varied changes in personnel and procedures, as well as to the library building itself.

A Kensington resident for almost 25 years, Teschek is originally from Concord. He grew up in Laconia, graduating in 1975 from Laconia High School.

He and his wife Tish will be celebrating their silver wedding anniversary in April. Their son, John, 19, is a sophomore at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass.

Teschek graduated from the University of New Hampshire in May of 1979, earning a degree in American History with minors in German and library science. He didn’t have to wait long to put at least one of those degrees to work after receiving his diploma.

“While I was still in school I sent out the application for the job,” said Teschek, who estimates he sent out close to 100 resumes all over New England.

“Hampton happened to be looking for someone at the time, and the rest is history,” he said. He started at Lane Library two days after he graduated from UNH.

Now, almost 37 years later, Teschek – whose official title is assistant director and head of technical services – is preparing to step into the next chapter of his life’s story.

Teschek began his Lane Library career as an assistant librarian in May of 1979, when Charlotte Hutton was the director.

“I was basically the No. 2 person, which is where I am now,” he said. “I am quite content with that.”

In the beginning, he found things were somewhat disorganized in terms of what was expected of him in relation to his job description.

“Charlotte said, ‘Go find something to do,’” he recalled. “So I just puttered about. Cataloguing was a mess, so I figured that out.”

May 1979 newspaper article about Bill Teschek joining the Lane Library Another one of Teschek’s initial tasks was to draft a newspaper press release about being hired as the newest member of the library staff.

“They wanted me to write it,” he said, laughing at the memory. “I had to write my own story about starting at the library. I managed!”

About a year into the job, Teschek was given an unexpected promotion.

“It happened very quickly when Charlotte had to step back” due to ill health in 1980, he said. “They promoted me, which seemed great at the time.”

However, even though Teschek served as director for about a decade, “It wasn’t my forte,” he notes, adding that he “was quite happy” to hand over the reins to the next director, Bradley Green, in 1990.

Green’s term was short; he resigned in 1993, and Catherine Redden was brought in as the new director. When she fell ill around mid-2007, Teschek again took on the position until January of the following year.

At that time Shirley Barron was named interim director, serving until May 2008. Teschek once more filled in until June, when Amanda Reynolds-Cooper was hired as the current director. He settled back into the “No. 2” position and has been happy to be there ever since.

Teschek has seen – and been involved in – what he calls “a ton of changes” over the years at the library, including an extensive renovation project which took place beginning in the fall of 1983.

While the project was underway, library operations were temporarily set up in a warehouse on Stickney Terrace, and that era brings back some humorous memories for Teschek.

“When we had to close the building down and move over to Stickney Terrace, Charles Dickens’ ‘Bleak House’ was the first in the book drop,” said Teschek, noting that situations like leaky plumbing from the floor above made their time in the warehouse somewhat less than desirable.

“We thought that (the Dickens’ book) was so appropriate,” he said.

When everything was moved back into the newly transformed library in the spring of 1985, Teschek and his co-workers (all women) “waited with breathless anticipation” to see which book was the first one found in the book drop.

“It was ‘Superior Women,’” said Teschek, adding that “everybody but me got a big kick out of that!”

Technology is another area where Teschek has been involved in a major way at Lane.

“When I first started working there, the height of automation was a manual typewriter,” he recalled. “I owned an IBM Selectric. I went to them and asked if I could bring it in.”

He got the definitive go-ahead, and “the library leased it from me for $1 a year,” he said. “It’s the best bargain the town of Hampton ever got.”

As the years passed, the process of using a standard typewriter to laboriously create cards for the card catalog gave way to using a machine with an electronic memory, creating far swifter results.

“They were so amazing to watch,” Teschek said. “We had that right into the 90s.”

The circulation system also advanced, and “that was a really big deal, getting that automated,” said Teschek. “It took a long time.”

For check-outs, the library utilized a motorized embosser that left a borrower’s name and address imprinted on the circulation card that was tucked in the pocket of each book when it was reshelved.

“You could open a book and see who borrowed it,” said Teschek. “People would say, ‘So-and-so read it; I’m going to read it, too.’”

Needless to say, “we acknowledged that and got a system that printed a number” instead of a name to guard borrowers’ privacy.

Teschek witnessed further technological advances, including the addition of public computers, Internet access, and the library’s Intranet system; the development of the library’s website; the creation of an extensive electronic genealogical database; and the capability to store the library’s full catalog on the Internet. He quickly became the “go-to person” for many tech-related questions.

Over the years, Teschek has seen his share of personnel changes and various events that have brought both joy and sorrow to the Lane Library community.

“Probably one of the saddest moments was when Catherine died,” he said, referring to Redden’s passing in Sept. 2008 following a battle with cancer.

Teschek recalled how Redden had a habit of writing “Thank you” on the staff’s paycheck envelopes, and how they would often find little trinkets that she had stuck in or taped to the envelopes.

“She was so nice,” he said.

Teschek also recalled making a surprising discovery while up in the library’s attic many years ago.

“Lo and behold there was a huge pile of books up there under a tarp, old books from the 1800s and early 1900s,” he said, adding that the library’s “very first book,” which is labeled “1” on its spine, was part of the literary trove.

“It was really interesting to discover that,” he said of the book, which is titled “Biography and History of the Indians of North America, From Its First Discovery” by Samuel G. Drake, published in 1857.

Teschek himself published a book, “Hampton and Hampton Beach,” an “Images of America” photo history paperback which was printed in 1997. There are currently five copies of the book on the library’s shelves.

Teschek’s successful library career has been enhanced by his involvement in his brother Bob’s race timing company, Granite State Race Services, since 1984. Teschek and his family have timed races in all six New England states as well as in upstate New York, driving a well-equipped van to each race site.

“We pile (everything) in the van, drive to the race, run a power cord, and do our thing, rain or shine,” he said. Race organizers “hire us to manage the finish lines, time the runners, and produce the results.”

Their work has taken the Tescheks to locales outside of their standard areas: They have timed a race in both Washington DC and Bermuda, and their most recent (and furthest) race was in St. John in the Virgin Islands.

“I enjoy it very much,” said Teschek, who plans on devoting more time to this second career. “You get to travel a lot. I have seen parts of New England that I probably wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.”

And, he observed, “It’s challenging. You get a really good feeling when you get through it and you’re done.”

The same might be said now that Teschek is seeing his time at the Lane Library come to its end. However, staff and patrons can be assured that he will still be around to help out with various tasks in his spare time, such as maintaining the history pages on the library’s website.

“It’s not like I’m going to walk out the door on April 1 and never come back,” he laughed. “I’m going to continue with the library in a volunteer capacity. I’ll have more time to read (so) I will be dropping in to get more books.”

He added, “I’ve been there for so long – it’s more than just a job. I feel like the library is part of me and my life, and I don’t want to abandon it.”

The community will have a chance to celebrate Bill Teschek and his library career at a reception taking place at the Lane Memorial Library on Tuesday, March 29 beginning at 6:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served, and the public is invited to attend. For information call 926-3368.

A tribute to Bill from WMUR


The original video produced by the staff of the Lane Memorial Library

Return to Table of Contents