Bingham Creek Library manager retires with honors (and banana pudding)
Oct 08, 2018 01:38PM
By Jana Klopsch
Ruby Cheesman retired after 31 years with the Salt Lake County Library System, cooking up her 1,000th banana pudding in the process. (Sarah Payne/City Journals)
By Sarah Payne | [email protected]
Bingham Creek Library (4800 West and 9000 South) gave a warm farewell on Aug. 31 to its manager, Ruby Cheesman, age 70, who retired after a distinguished career of 31 years of service to the Salt Lake County Library System.
Cheesman also completed a fun, delicious, personal goal on that day to make her 1,000th banana pudding, a delicious dessert that has been in her family for a long time. The family tradition that is banana pudding for Cheesman began in her native Georgia, with her grandmother, Ruby Nolan, who she called “Mumsie.” Mumsie began making the banana pudding from the recipe found on the Nabisco Nilla Wafers box. Cheesman said she was allowed to watch, but it was not until age 12 that she was allowed to make the special treat herself. She began to count the puddings she made from that time.
At the age of 24, Cheesman married and moved to Provo. In 1987, she began her career as a librarian at the Magna Library, where she remained for a short time.
Cheesman received a Master’s in Library and information Science in 1993. She began to manage the Bingham Creek Library, where she remained for the last 20 years of her career, serving the community from the library.
“She’s there for her employees,” said Rachel Goodman, a librarian. “She’s done a lot. She’s very much into advocating for her staff, making sure the library looked nice, getting books into people’s hands.”
Cheesman enjoyed working for the library very much.
“I love to help people find the good books to read, or find information that they’re looking for,” she said. “What’s nice about the library is that there’s something for everyone, and most everybody has good things to say.”
The banana pudding goal was a challenge that Cheesman received from a coworker at Bingham Creek, who suggested she try to finish 1,000 puddings by her retirement day, which was also her 70th birthday. She took the challenge and has worked hard to accomplish it. The Library System’s employees have been the recipients of many dishes of banana pudding. Cheesman set up a spreadsheet and allowed library managers to request that she bring a banana pudding to their library.
“Needless to say, I was kept pretty busy for a few years,” Cheesman said.
Cheesman’s career has been distinguished by a lasting legacy of service and love. Holly Whistler, another librarian, said, “When I started here (at Salt Lake County Library Services), I met Ruby, working on different things with her, and she was one of the nicest, most welcoming librarians I had ever met.”
Robyn Bave, longtime customer service specialist at the library, has worked with Ruby for many years.
“She worked really well at keeping us as a team,” she said. “The first manager we had kind of set us up that way, and we’ve been fortunate to have managers that have continued keeping the team strong. Ruby was really good at doing that, not just in work ways, but in friend ways, being friendly to each other, laughing and having a good time.”
A good working environment was very important to Cheesman, and she devoted much time and energy making the library a positive place to work, bringing in games and other tactics to help her employees have a good experience, a place where each employee matters.
“Ruby’s always been there to put up our point of view and support us,” Bave said. “I think that’s very important in a manager. Overall, that might be more important than just having the fun and games, but I think the fun and games show that she’s as concerned about all levels of employees.”
Carolyn Cammack, assistant circulation supervisor, has something to say about the valuable example Cheesman sets for her employees.
“She likes to see displays filled,” Cammack said. “She doesn’t like to see empty spaces. She just likes to serve the public, make sure people can find what they need when they come, always laughs, always has a story to tell.”
Cheesman is leaving her mark behind as she leaves her beloved library. Among her many achievements are a wider book selection, a year as president of the Utah Library Association from 2009–2010, and the Reader’s Choice program at the library, which chooses books and encourages people to read and vote on the best of several books. Other library accomplishments, such as a recent remodel, show just how much she cares for the Bingham Creek Library, its personnel and those who frequent it.
But the moment of goodbye is not yet, as Ruby will continue to volunteer in the library for some time yet. She plans to continue reading and has plans to take a trip to Orlando and a cruise with her family in the year to come. Bingham Creek Library’s employees and clientele alike bid Cheesman a bittersweet goodbye.