Natalie's Everyday Heroes: Kris Stabo, youth librarian in Menomonee Falls for 47 years
MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Kris Stabo has been a familiar face at the Menomonee Falls Library for almost 50 years. As the youth librarian, she has given generations of kids a love of reading. She retired last month and is reflecting on her long and colorful career.
"Maude Shunk Youth Library, can we help you?" Stabo said, answering the phone on her last day of work. "I will have those ready for you."
And even on her last day, Stabo is there to help. Pulling out books, and searching for the perfect dinosaur titles for an eager young reader.
"These will go right out to our hold desk in the circulation area for the person to pick up," she explained, sliding a slip of paper into each book.
This is just what she's always done.
"I have been here for 47 years. I started here on May 5, 1975," Stabo said.
She's been the face kids have seen for generations.
"We are raising readers and they do continue to come, and that's why it's so important to start young. Make the library a positive and fun experience for them," Stabo said.
It's a formula that's worked. Now parents bring their kids to see her. Amanda Caivano has worked with Stabo since 2014.
"I think it's been a pretty great benefit for the community. She's really gotten to know the community so well," Caivano said. "We've certainly had people come into the library and be like, 'Oh, I remember when Miss Kris was our librarian.'"
Stabo's daughter, Heather Stabo, remembers well. She grew up watching her mom work at the library.
"Actually, a lot of my really good core memories take place at the library," she said.
Heather joined other library staff as they celebrated Stabo's career in May. Along with the cards and the cake, the party also gave Stabo time to reflect on her favorite memories.
"I think the biggest impact I was able to have was the year that we had 'Razzle Dazzle Read' as a statewide summer reading program," she remembered.
The year was 1996. Stabo coordinated a huge tent on the grounds of the Great Circus Parade in Milwaukee.
"It was amazing. Just the interest of people coming to look through all the books, picking up the book lists," she said of the crowds.
Her connections with the Friends of the Circus World Museum in Baraboo and her love of the circus came together with her love of books.
"We handed out nearly 15,000 'Read More About' book lists, bookmarks, a very clever bookmark linking library statistics in circus lingo," she said with obvious pride.
And that's what it's been about all these years -- making sure kids have access to reading.
"Well, libraries are for everyone," she said.
The staff sent her off with a copy of her favorite children's book, signed by her coworkers..
"Thank you all," she said to the group. "I will treasure this!"
And what is that favorite book?
"Ah, Swimmy by Leo Lionni," Stabo said. "Because Swimmy is very tiny, yet Swimmy can do something to make a difference."
So, while Stabo may be retired, her daughter expects she, too, will keep making a difference.
"She's had three work days off and she's been at the library for two of them already," Heather said with a laugh.
Because a love of reading never quits. In fact, Stabo wanted everyone to know the summer reading program starts on June 13.
"I know what a difference books and reading can make in people's lives, and it does enable them to live better for the rest of their lives," she said.
For more information on the summer reading program, the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program, and more, click here.
If you'd like to nominate an Everyday Hero, send Natalie a message at NShepherd@cbs58.com.