PRESQUE ISLE — For the past 12 years Librarian Gail Roy has made a substantial impact on NMCC campus and the greater Aroostook community. This past semester Roy announced her retirement, making the 2020 school year her last. A professional of the library sciences, Roy is part of a growing community of librarians who understand libraries as integral community resources, beyond only books and research.
Reflecting on beginning the job in 2008, Roy said, “I knew when I arrived that the library had to be a vibrant space, and a place where students felt comfortable above anything else.” To this end Roy began staffing the library with work-study students to create a student-centric environment. She stocked all types of craft supplies and added innovations like the One Button Studio, where students could record professional-looking presentations with the touch of a button. She also added a Maker Space with a 3D-printer, virtual reality headsets, computers equipped with professional design software and quality free printers.
“Gail Roy was a tireless worker for students and faculty, teaching students to use library resources, providing interlibrary loan services, and hosting a wide variety of intellectual and cultural activities,” said NMCC Arts and Sciences Department Chair David Raymond. “She will be difficult to replace and will be sorely missed.”
To expose students to culture and community, Roy worked with the Presque Isle Historical Society, Maine Arts Council, First Friday Arts Walk and the Aroostook Band of Micmacs to create engaging programming. “The main focus was to have events that were free and always open to the public,” Roy explained. One of her favorite annual events was the Creative Writers Reading Series organized by the NMCC English faculty, bringing published authors from around the country to speak with students and discuss their work.
The nursing cohort is prominent on NMCC campus and relies on library services like computer access, study space, printing, research literature, and private rooms. Nursing Department Chair Eileen McDougal said, “Gail was a wonderful asset for the nursing and allied health students. She would speak to students at the beginning of every year, explaining the electronic and print resources available to them. Faculty and students will all miss Gail’s knowledge, experience, positive outlook and genuine interest in helping others learn and grow at the college.”
Roy took student well-being seriously, and in the weeks surrounding final exams she created stations with snacks, coffee, tea, water, highlighters, Post-it notes and anything that could help reduce stress. When NMCC Student Navigator Ashley Hall needed to find a location for the growing food pantry, which provides free food to students in need, she chose the library. Roy felt proud she’d created a space where vulnerable students could feel safe.
Originally from Connecticut, Roy moved to Presque Isle after a road trip with her husband exploring the area. With just a few years’ experience in her new profession as a librarian, the couple moved north without jobs, drawn to The County’s quiet and peaceful way of life. Connecticut felt too crowded and no longer seemed like the place she had grown up in. Six months after the move Roy landed a job as a reference librarian at the Mark and Emily Turner Memorial Library in Presque Isle.
“As library services have changed with technology, Gail has been able to service the students and community with traditional requests while also positioning the college to be a leader in online and student support services,” said NMCC President Timothy Crowley. “She has created an attitude and atmosphere in our library that is welcoming and supportive while providing one of the most advanced library services in the community college system. We have been fortunate to have Gail Roy with us for 12 years. We wish her all the best in this new chapter in her life.”
In retirement Roy hopes to travel, enjoy outdoor activities, visit Maine parks, and do some bird watching. She’s currently most excited about a Miniature Dachshund puppy she’s on a waiting list for, joining a small group of NMCC retirees who own Dachshunds.
“I truly enjoyed working with students, staff and faculty at NMCC,” Roy said. “NM really is a family and has the feeling of belonging to something – it’s special there. The people make it special. When you have that intersection of learning, compassion, excellence, and that feeling of family. It’s pure magic.”