Well read

Book closing on career of museum’s head librarian

PHOTO SUBMITTED Becky Hill, head librarian at Hayes Presidential Library & Museums, holds her favorite book in the library’s collection, “Last Men of the Revolution.” It includes a picture of her great-great-great-great grandfather and belonged to President Abraham Lincoln and later President Hayes.

FREMONT — The head librarian at the Hayes Presidential Library & Museums is to retire this weekend after 34 years of services.

Becky Hill began working at HPLM in 1984, when the library was used mainly by researchers and academics.

The library had many resources, especially in genealogy, but Hill said some people were too intimidated to come.

Hill, who had worked at Tiffin-Seneca Public Library, has a love of history and genealogy and knew the job was for her. She started part-time and, after 16 years, she took over as head librarian full time.

Through the years, Hill has worked on many pet projects to make the library’s resources more accessible to the public. An experienced genealogist, she has taught genealogy classes to help people become more aware of available resources and created HPLM’s Ohio Obituary Index, which went live online in 2000. Now more than 60 libraries across the state are connected and add information, with the index totaling 3.6 million names.

“This has been a big help to genealogists and historians,” she said.

Hill said the library’s resources had been limited to books and card catalogs and she wanted to help make it more open and as friendly as possible.

She also was instrumental in the redesign of the HPLM website in 2016. In 1999, she worked with Ohio History Connection to put President Rutherford B. Hayes’ diary and letters online.

Hill said she enjoys helping people the most, especially seeing people get excited when they find information about their ancestors.

She first found her passion for genealogy as a child and in college, when her mother gave her a box of family memories to organize.

“I was very excited to go through everything,” she said. “This is our history. You can find ancestors that have been in the war. It really hits home then.”

Hill’s last day is Saturday. She plans to continue working in the library one day a week.

Hill said the job has been part of her life so long that it is going to be hard to leave.

“The people here are great and are a part of my family,” she said.

Hill said it was time for her to retire and she plans to do the things she has been putting off, such as traveling and genealogy work she hasn’t had time for. Hill also will spend time with her four grandchildren.

“It is time for someone else to take over,” she said.