A library is more than a building full of books. It is a castle where a princess awaits her prince. It is a small cottage in the forest turned life-changing destination. It is a spaceship exploring the depths of outer space. It is all those things and more thanks to the thousands of fiction and non-fiction authors from around the world.
The keeper of those stories is the librarian. And for the past 38 years, the keeper of the stories at the Green Bank Library has been Jane Mospan, who will retire at the end of this year.
Mospan, a native of Green Bank, is the very picture of a librarian – quiet, friendly and knowledgeable about books. She began her career at the library as an assistant to Rose Boyer.
The downside to being a quiet librarian, is that Mospan doesn’t like to tell her own stories.
“I don’t talk about myself,” she said.
When you are able to get a story or two out of her, it’s obvious Mospan has led an interesting life. After graduating from Green Bank High School, she went to Washington, D.C. to be a secretary at the FBI. She started a family and had two children, Mark and Michelle, and moved back to Green Bank in the late 70s.
Never one to be idle, Mospan stayed busy with two or three jobs, including working at the Cass Post Office and, of course, the library.
“I worked at the post office on Saturdays, and I took my vacation from the library and worked at the post office,” she said. “I probably worked there for twenty years.”
Pocahontas County was hit by a devastating flood in 1985 when Mospan was working at Cass. A photo of Mospan taken during the aftermath of the flood was published in the book “Pocahontas County Floods Through 1985.”
At that time, the post office was located in a trailer across the bridge from the Cass Company Store.
“The water was about five feet up in the trailer,” Mospan recalled. “We went to the depot and handed out mail [until the building was replaced]. I sorted the mail here at the Green Bank post office, took it to Cass and passed it out.”
In her 38 years as librarian, Mospan has seen many changes in the library and the services it offers. The original building, known as “the octagon” was closer to the main road. It was replaced in the early 2000s. The new building was dedicated in 2003, and the octagon was purchased by Jim Burks, who transported it to his farm in Hillsboro to use as a tack room.
The new library is larger, brighter and has a computer lab in the center of the facility.
Other changes included going from card catalog to computer cataloging and the style-change of library cards.
This patron remembers getting her first library card, which took several weeks because the application was sent to Charleston. The final product looked more like a credit card with a name and date punched into it.
Now, the cards are at the library and ready for patrons in seconds.
One of the biggest changes was in Mospan. Over the years, she learned her patrons and watched many of them grow up – going from the children’s section to the adult fiction and non-fiction sections.
“I know what people like to read and that influences ordering my books,” she said. “I know which direction to point them when they come in.”
As librarian for the Green Bank Library, she did her fair share of traveling for the job.
“I went to Charleston and different places for library meetings,” she said. “Some of them were training. Some of them were West Virginia Library Association meetings. They had meetings all around the state, and most of the meetings were in state parks.”
She also traveled to Charleston each year during the Legislative session to lobby for library funding.
“We went to the legislature each year,” she said. “That’s how I got to meet all the legislators. I also met all the governors in the past 38 years, except for Jim Justice.”
Back at the Green Bank Library, Mospan was more than a librarian. She did a lot of maintenance work on the facility and its grounds.
“I painted the outside of the octagon one summer,” she said. “I shoveled snow out of the whole parking lot years ago. I have mowed the yard with a push mower.”
The library is close to Mospan, figuratively and literally. Her house is next door to the facility. In fact, there were times she walked to work on a little path connecting the two.
“I have waded in snow over my knees to get up here,” she said. “I walk when the weather is bad. I’ve used a broom handle to help me along.”
Now, as she prepares for the next chapter of her life, Mospan said she is ready to pass on the reins to the next keeper of the stories.
“I think it’s time for someone else,” she said.
Her plans for retirement are to “do what I well please when I please, and just relax,” she said.
And to read, of course.
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org