Librarian tired of the politics

If you can’t imagine the Vassar Bullard Sanford Library without its Director, James Rancilio, well start.

By Judy Seifert

Staff Writer

VASSAR — If you can’t imagine the Vassar Bullard Sanford Library without its Director, James Rancilio, well start. For 23 years, led by Rancilio, the library has become the city’s heart, soul and its conscience. But, in two years, he will leave.

“It’s hard to imagine, but I’ll be ready to step down when the time comes,” he said. “I’m not leaving because of the people or my work. I’ve made the decision because I’m just tired of fighting Lansing, the politics, the politicians. 

“Every year, libraries are asked to do more with less money because those in power don’t get the reality. Small libraries are constantly struggling to do what is best for their communities, to make their community stronger, better. Diminishing resources, a complete lack of understanding and lack of experience by those making the critical decisions in Lansing that affect libraries – well, I can’t fight that battle anymore.”

Rancilio said he hopes after retirement to continue working in a library; the just would prefer to do what he calls “the fun stuff.”

One bright moment this past year: a children’s book in which he makes an appearance. Written by Brandi Partridge of Vassar and illustrated by Kim Nightser, “The Library Book” is an introduction to the Vassar library.

The main character in the book is a book. It finds itself on a shelf and isn’t quite sure it wants to be there until it meets another character, the library card. The card is eager to show the book all the cool things about the library including the director, the bookmobile, its computers and Internet services, the rooms that hold concerts and meetings. 

Together the two new friends explore and discover. At the end of the story, the new book is happy.

“The idea to write a book about the library’s services was suggested by Onna Clinesmith,” Rancilio explained. “Everyone got together and started throwing ideas around, and before we knew it, it all came together.”

The book was designed to serve three purposes; the first, to honor the director and the work he’s accomplished at the library, the second, to profile the library’s services, and the third to raise some money.

Contributors made the first 200 copies possible. Those sponsors paid for the initial printing and publication cost of $2,500. The library is now selling the book for $12.50. Since the cost has been covered, whatever the library makes by selling the book benefits the library.

“The community made this happen because they use this library, its services,” Rancilio said. “The people in Vassar have passed five millages that support this library without opposition, without any problems. That says a lot.”

“The Library Book” is aimed at children between the ages of four and 10. It was released in January and now only 50 copies remain.

“We’re making a trip next week to Central Elementary to read the book to students,” Rancilio said. “That will be fun. How many times to you get to read a book that is entirely about Vassar, written and illustrated by Vassar people, published in Vassar and is about the Vassar library?”

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