The Meribah chapter comes to an end
A rock star.
One for the books.
Meribah Mansfield is all that and more, according to the community members who attended a public farewell reception for her at the Old Worthington Library on July 23.
Hundreds of residents and former colleagues filed through a receiving line, and many stayed to listen to the tributes targeted at the retiring director of the Worthington Libraries.
Mansfield spent 38 years working at central Ohio libraries. For the past 19, she has led the Worthington Libraries from hard times to the best of times.
Chuck Curley was on the library board that hired Mansfield back in 1991. A levy had failed in 1990, and the library director stepped down.
"The future of the Worthington Library did not look all that rosy," he said.
Applications for the job came from all over the country, but only one came from Columbus, where Mansfield was manager of the main library.
He remembered the interview.
"She wowed us," Curley said. "It was clear to us that we had our next library director."
Her accomplishments are legendary. First, she fixed a roof that was literally falling.
She made a major addition to the main library, built the Northwest Library, expanded both, ushered in the computer age, opened the Worthington Park branch, and was named Ohio Librarian of the Year.
And Worthington Libraries was named the best library in the country.
"Thank you for writing this very special chapter in Worthington history," said Kathryn Paugh, director of the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce and a former library trustee.
Mansfield ranks with the likes of Elvis, Cher, Prince, and Madonna as personalities recognized by one name. There is only one Meribah, said Columbus Metropolitan Library director Patrick Losinski.
"Meribah is truly one of the library's rock stars," he said.
He seemed to have gotten beyond the sting of being rejected by the "rock star" when he interviewed for a job with the Columbus system in 1986. Mansfield thought he didn't measure up to Columbus standards, he said.
He was later hired, and got to know the one-name wonder.
No one has worked harder for Ohio's libraries, he said.
"You're going to inspire us for years to come," he said.
In retirement, Mansfield will continue her education to become ordained as a deacon in the Episcopal Church. As she has at the library, she will focus on serving people.
And she will probably do it well, Losinski said.
"My guess is, she will soon be named deacon of the year," he said.
With her family surrounding her, Mansfield shared the last words as the reception, and her tenure, drew to an end.
"I absolutely loved my career as a librarian," she said. "Even the roof."