Nicholls library specialist retires after sixteen-year tenure

One Nicholls library specialist is ready to retire after 40 years of helping students of all of ages get the information and knowledge needed to be successful.

Jolene Knight, native of Thibodaux, first got involved with the local school libraries shortly after graduating from high school. In her senior year at Thibodaux High she enrolled in a course called Cooperative Office Educating, where she would go to school for a half a day and work for the other half. That year, her afternoon job was working twelve to four as the librarian at Thibodaux Elementary School.

“I was chosen for the job because I had lots of sisters and brothers,’ she said. “So they knew I would be good with the students.”

Knight has five sisters and two brothers, her being the eighth child.

Knight remembers typing cards, preparing books for shelves and reading stories to students for classes during that year. She credits a fourth grade elementary school teacher and mentor during her senior year, Dot Hardberger, for motivating her to work in libraries and helping her find where she wanted to be. Knight also had a love for her student-workers and the students around her.

“I was an aunt at four years old and was also with my nieces and nephews, so with a big family, I was very family-oriented,” Knight said.

After graduating high school, Knight got married to her husband Perry later that year in December (they make 45 years of marriage this year). She then, after having her first child, began working in the library at St. Genevieve School in Thibodaux. Her son eventually attended St. Genevieve School a year later where she remained until his eighth grade year to help at East Thibodaux, where her son then started going. She would make a name in Thibodaux libraries after by also helping at South Thibodaux Elementary School where her youngest son attended.

In February 2000, Knight was hired to work in Ellender Memorial Library at Nicholls, where she originally worked the night shift. In 2002, she applied and ran the multi-media department in the library, holding that position until 2012. After working in different department positions within the library, she had been involved with circulation, gifts and exchange for the library and reserves in the Access Services department since 2013. Circulation is what she favored.

“Circulation involves more students,” she said. “That enabled better contact with students when helping them.”
Knight believes that although students and society are now in the age of technology, actual books found in libraries still hold much value.

“Sometimes students still need to look at a book rather than a laptop screen,” she said. “Looking personally at a book and having it in your hands, for some students, makes a difference.”

Knight finds that recently more students are motivated to study and check out books than years before. She prides students, members on athletic teams and also sorority and fraternity members on coming to the library and earning study hours.

Knight plans to enjoy retirement to the fullest. Her oldest grandson will start Nicholls in the fall, majoring in mechanical engineering. Also, Knight says retirement will give her a chance to spend time with her youngest grandson who is three years old. Traveling is also on the agenda in the near future.

“I have a travel camper, and I want it travel to the mountains in Tennessee and Missouri. I’ve never been,” Knight said. “Me and my husband also will continue travelling to different car shows on the weekends as well which we really enjoy.”

Knight and her husband own a classic 1962 Chevy Impala SS.