After 50 years at WSC, it’s time

Kadra Sommersted, Staff Writer

Fifty years is a long time to be anywhere. Cathy Echtenkamp has completed 50 years of service to Wayne State College in the library.

“Since I have been here, I have worked in three different departments in the library,” said Echtenkamp The U.S. Conn library periodicals assistant. “When I first started working, I worked in cataloging, I don’t remember how many years. From there I went to circulation supervisor. Then when the person in charge of periodicals retired, I took over the periodicals department.”

Echtenkamp first started when she was a student employee while going to school at WSC, and was hired full time right out of college. She said the library staff was hiring for a position that had just opened, at that time.

She said she found her niche working with periodicals, even though they are an enigma to work with. She said technology is what has changed most within the library.

“(There have been) lots of changes since I’ve started working here,” said Echtenkamp. “Probably technology is the biggest difference from when I started here, and the biggest improvement. When I started here, the photocopier was just coming into being.”

She said the photocopier could only copy pages and not do everything that it is capable of today. She said the library used to have card catalogs for all of their holdings.

“The were big and monstrous, wooden pieces of furniture with hundreds of drawers and they contained tens of thousands of cards,” said Echtenkamp. “Now look at what we have, we have an online catalog.”

She said it’s quite an improvement for students being able to find information faster.

“I really enjoy working with the periodicals department,” said Echtenkamp.

David Graber, library director, said he has known Echtenkamp for 23 years.

“Cathy is easy to get to know, very friendly, very personable,” said Graber. “She’s very integrated into the community.”

He said he thinks everyone on staff has gotten to know Echtenkamp quite well and would call her a friend.

“She’s been such a good, steady presence on the staff here for so long,” said Graber.

He said she is very easy to be around, has a good sense of humor and laughs easily.

“She’s always willing to take time out and talk with people,” said Graber. “She’s not just somebody that’s going to hide in her office and peck away on the computer. She’s very much a part of the social life of the building.”

He said they are cross-training staff within the building.

“You don’t replace Cathy, even with a new person,” said Graber. “We’ll try to ensure that the department still runs smoothly if she’s not there.”

He said she has been a supervisor for many student employees, and has made quite an impact on students’ lives. He said she has been a great mentor for students over the years, and that her mentoring skills could quite possibly be her greatest impact.

“I have had a lot of student workers, and one way or another I have enjoyed working with all of them,” said Echtenkamp. “Thank goodness for their help.”

She said she wishes she knew an approximate number for how many students she was have worked with her.

“I have worked with Cathy for two years now, I even worked with her over the summer,” said sophomore student worker Maddy Pohlman.

She said she has a great relationship with Echtenkamp.

“She has a kind heart and a good sense of humor. I will miss having her around, she has made a positive impact on my life,” said Pohlman.

“Cathy and I first connected over our love for office sweets,” said Pohlman.

She said Echtenkamp loves watching her light up when there is food around.

“I want people to know that Cathy has been very dedicated to her job,” said Pohlman. “She puts her heart into her work and everyone in the library appreciates her. She will be missed.”

Echtenkamp says she stays in contact with many of her student workers. She has been to many of their weddings and celebrated the births of their children.

“I’ve enjoyed helping students, working with students, so I hope in some way I’ve helped in the process of enriching their lives,” said Echtenkamp. “I want to make sure they understand that the students have always been the important thing for me, and getting the information to them and helping them as much as I can because I know a student’s life is just so busy and hectic, so any way I can help them I want to believe I can help.”

She said she will miss the students and staff the most, and it’ll be strange for her for a while not coming in to the library every day. She hopes to spend more time with family, travel and read more.