Fly Fishing, Family and Travel, Larry Justiss Plans for Eventful Retirement
Not everyone can say ‘I love my job,’ but after 38 years of saying just that, Director of the Tom Green County Library Larry Justiss is ready to leave his love of the bookshelves behind and enjoy his retirement. He just hopes he won’t be too bored.
Justiss, originally from Dallas, says he got his start working in the library system by accident. While studying at the University of North Texas he took a part-time job as a shelver in the Dallas Public Library and basically never left the work.
“[I] had a friend who was working there (Dallas Public Library) as a part-time shelver, and he said, ‘Come on up here, we’ve got a job opening.’ So I said, ‘Oh you know, sounds good.’ So I went up there and took that job and it grew from there,” Justiss said.
After a while, Justiss was put on the “book mobile”, a mobile library that traveled the city offering library services where perceived transportation barriers limited access to regular branches. Justiss soon became the book mobile supervisor, and following the birth of his twins, moved to Big Spring to work on his masters degree in Library Science, and upon receiving that in ’75, headed to San Angelo without the intent to stay.
“Being from Dallas, I’d never really envisioned staying in west Texas when I moved out here,” Justiss said. “But I began to really love west Texas, and now to the point that—I love going back to Dallas and visiting, and I have kids in Houston, too, but I can’t wait to get out of there and get back here where it’s saner. San Angelo is just such a friendly place; it always has been. It’s just full of caring people that are pretty amazing.”
Over the years, via work through the library, Justiss has had the opportunity to engage in the community and has led innumerable library projects. This constant connection with the community is something he says he’ll miss, but he doesn’t plan on giving it all up.
“That’s one of the things I’ve loved about this job is you get to meet a lot of people,” Justiss said. “A lot of different people. I’ve been involved, not just with the library, but with many different organizations in town; United Way, Boy Scouts, Soccer—a number of things. Through all of those endeavors you get to meet a lot of people. So that’s one of the things that’s been really exciting about this position, is being able to get out…make connections, connect the library back to them as best we can and explore relationships there.”
In 38 years Larry Justiss has made a lot of relationships and is a member of various art and recreatonal organizations in San Angelo, including Downtown San Angelo, Inc.
“I really…would like to continue working with them on the development of downtown,” he said. “I just think it’s important to be involved in the community that you live in. There’s so much going on here, particularly downtown, and with the growth—the oil boom—there will be a lot more opportunities.”
Also on the books for Justiss is a post-retirement summer retreat. Justiss says he intends travel, visiting national parks in Colorado and Wyoming, visiting family and honing his fly-fishing skills.
“I’ll get to spend a little more time with family, kids, grandkids, that I haven’t had the time to do,” he said. “Maybe I’ll even try to figure out how to play golf. I’ve tried for years, but I don’t have a lot of faith that I’m going to get any better at that, but I’ll have time to try,” he laughs.
After a lengthy period of contemplation, Justiss says his decision to retire was based on timing. The idea had been there for quite some time, he says, but it was always pushed back because a project was in progress or just beginning. After a while Justiss began to notice a pattern, and realizing there would always be more work to do, decided to step down at a time when funds have been raised and projects are on the right path.
So far, the library has yet to name a replacement, but is in the interviewing stages. Justiss says his ideal successor combines a knowledge of modern technology, management skill, and experience working in libraries.
Justiss’ last day in Jan. 31. On Thursday, Jan. 23, reception for Justiss will take place in the Tom Green County Library from 4-6 p.m. The event is open to the public and free to attend.
Following his retirement, Justiss will still be seen around the library, only then, he will be on the other side of the desk.
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