A Jennings County Public Library employee who played an instrumental role in the library’s expansion of services to the public has retired.

Bette Eggleston, 65, has ended her 23-year career at the library. She most recently served as the directer of adult programming.

“We are losing a valuable resource of our community and at the library. Bette has been the calming force of our foundation. Whatever crazy idea we had to expand and improve the library, it was Bette with her knowledge of the community and her experience who knew how to make it happen,” said Mary Hoagland, the library’s director.

Eggleston, 65, a 1969 Jennings County High School graduate, originally pursued a theater career and enrolled in Indiana University’s Theater Department. After earning a bachelor’s degree, she worked in the theater companies in San Diego, Dallas, Louisville and Indianapolis. Most of her time was working in the costuming departments of theater, opera and ballet companies, but she also acted.

After a stint working for the Indianapolis Repertory Theater in Indianapolis, Eggleston decided she wanted to return to small town life and moved back to North Vernon.

“My friends in theater thought I was crazy but I wanted to be some place where I knew and trusted the people around me and they knew who I was. You just don’t find that in big city life,” Eggleston said.

In 1993, she took a part-time job at the library, then located in the old Carnegie Building on Walnut Street. After discovering the world of library science, Eggleston enrolled in Indiana University’s library science master’s program.

After completing her master’s, Eggleston took a full-time job at the library at a time when many changes were taking place in the world of library science as computers began playing a greater role in libraries across the nation.

“Nothing has shaken up the library world like computers have, but in a good way. Books aren’t going away but computers have made it more possible to expand more services to more people,” Eggleston said.

Eggleston said she will miss her co-workers and the library patrons, and said she sees a bright future for libraries.

“There will still be books people can borrow but there will also be movies, music and computers they can use, too, and many programs about many things that everyone can enjoy,” Eggleston said.