Debbie Croft: Yosemite honors librarian

composed@tds.net.July 8, 2013 

When interpretive guides in Yosemite National Park need information, they turn to the Yosemite Research Library.

Librarian Linda Eade oversees the collection of 10,000 books, photographs, articles, field guides and reference materials. All of which cover human and natural history in the park.

After 42 years of service this summer, she plans to retire and relocate with her husband to Washington state. But not before receiving the park's most prestigious award.

Last month at an employee meeting attended by 300 people, Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher said: "It is my honor to present the Barry Hance Memorial Award to such an exceptional employee. Linda Eade has touched the lives of thousands of employees and visitors over the 42 years that she has been in Yosemite. She always has a smile on her face, is always willing to provide a helping hand and is a pleasure to be around."

Eade was honored, of course. Being a close friend of Hance gave her the opportunity to appreciate the qualities that made him such a positive influence among park employees.

"He crossed all the barriers with park personnel and worked with other divisions to get the job done," she said.

In 1995, Hance, a park facilities management employee, lost his life in an avalanche while plowing the Tioga Road. The annual award goes to an employee who reflects his character, his concern for people and his love for Yosemite.

Eade says the library is busy at times. Not only is it used by park staff, but it's also open to visitors. The library sits above the Indian Cultural Museum next to the Visitor's Center in Yosemite Valley.

A typical day involves park guides coming in to research topics for their instructional talks. Patrons ask questions as varied as: What's the square footage of the Tuolumne Meadows Visitors Center? Where are the bear habitats? Do you know if my grandfather worked here?

She remembers some of the strangest requests: What will the weather be like for my wedding (several months away)? Do you have any video footage of Chief Tenaya?

What Eade has enjoyed most about her job is the interaction with the public.

"I've met some amazing people," she said. "Wallace Stegner, a Western writer, sat and talked with me for an hour."

She became acquainted with David Brower, founder of the Sierra Club Foundation and the Earth Island Institute, and Jim Snyder, park historian and Yosemite Museum staff member.

Two resources she keeps nearby are the "Yosemite Place Names" book by Peter Browning and "Yosemite Grant 1864-1906: A Pictorial History" by Hank Johnston.

Eade sums up her career by saying, "It's been a wonderful job and a wonderful place to raise a family."

Her husband, Mike Osborne, was a ranger, and their two grown daughters now work in the park.

"I'm looking forward to new experiences after retirement," she said, "but it's bittersweet."

Debbie Croft writes about life in the foothill communities. She can be reached at composed@tds.net.

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