Popular children’s librarian Betty Collins will be retiring this fall after 23 years at the Musser Public Library (MPL) and HNI Community Center in Muscatine.

During her time at MPL, she has contributed her joyfulness, her heightened sense of whimsy and celebration, and her deep knowledge of the varied paths that children take as they learn and grow, according to a library release Wednesday.

During her time with the library, Collins also brought animatronic dinosaurs, live animals such as small sharks and de-scented skunks, and giant bubbles and foam cannons to children’s summer reading events.

Betty Collins will retire from the Musser Public Library in October after 23 years.

She coordinated huge winter programs with themes such as chocolate and famous buildings around the world. With a smile on her face, she also kept her promise during one summer reading program and kissed a bat.

And every day she brought her reading voice, her ideas, her enthusiasm, a smile, and a helpful spirit for the benefit of all patrons, young and old. Collins will be retiring effective Oct. 15, 2023.

“Despite having a deep satisfaction with my job as Youth Services Librarian, current family responsibilities lead me to believe my best course of action is to retire on October 15, 2023,” she wrote in the library release.

“To use an expression which reminds me of dinners eaten at Ina Mae’s back in the day, I have so many fish to fry, they just don’t fit in the skillet! Stepping back from leading the Children’s Department will help me better manage and balance my other life responsibilities,” Collins said.

“I would like to express gratitude to the city of Muscatine, Musser Public Library, and our entire community for an incredibly fulfilling experience over the last two decades,” she wrote. “Being able to listen to the thoughts and ideas of fellow humans of all ages, participate in children’s intellectual, creative, and social-emotional growth in real time, and share the experiences, good and bad, of life milestones with community members is the best career I can imagine.

“I also want to shout out to my remarkable co-workers who have not only put up with my crazy ideas and messy office, but have also been an integral part of what for me has been a glorious adventure,” Collins said.

“Of course, in a community like ours, so much work is accomplished collectively. It is a privilege to work with the many stellar organizations, groups, and agencies of our town,” she said.

Examples of MPL programming that encouraged children to explore these learning paths have included Sparkplugs family programs, Skeleton Key hands-on science events, O Baby Lapsit, and special experiences such as large-scale extravaganzas that relied on the participation and expertise of library patrons and families with their collective knowledge. 

A celebration for Collins will be held from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. in her favorite area of the library, the children’s department, on Saturday, Oct. 14. Everyone is welcome to join Musser Library staff and the city of Muscatine in reminiscing on her years of dedicated service and wishing her well on her next great adventure.