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Jeanne Peer retires from Athenaeum after 50 years

Even with the Westfield Athenaeum temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, poetry events are happening this month online. (FILE PHOTO)

The Westfield Athenaeum

WESTFIELD – After 50 years of serving the community, Jeanne Peer has retired from the Westfield Athenaeum.

Peer began working at the library in 1970 while still a teenager. Peer’s aunt Sophie Kareta also worked at the Athenaeum and the pair worked together until Kareta retired in 1981 as the assistant librarian. Kareta began her Athenaeum career in 1929 as a page.

Peer continued their family tradition of helping the community after Kareta retired. Over the years, she worked in almost all departments of the library, but mostly she worked in Reference and Technical Services. Peer worked in the Reference Department for many years and in the Edwin Smith Historical Museum and many times has provided coverage in both the circulation department and the Children’s Library – there wasn’t an area of the Athenaeum she didn’t touch.

In 1988 she started the Technical Services Department, which is the cataloging and processing department of the library. Since that time, she ran the department and has classified almost every item in the library, including books, music, movies, toys, puppets and more.

“Jeanne has seen so many changes in the library over the years and is always a great source of institutional history,” said Amy Tumavicus in technical services at the Athenaeum.

Peer’s colleagues cannot say enough good things about her, including her style.

“Not only is Jeanne a sharp dresser, she is one of the hardest working people I have ever met,” said Public Services Librarian Becky Blackburn. “She really deeply cares about the library’s success and how her work affects her co-workers. We will really feel a loss from her retirement.”
Athenaeum Director Kate Deviny said she will miss Peer’s guidance.

“Jeanne is a wonderful, classy woman who has been passionate about the library and its success and equally compassionate with all the staff. She has been a good friend and a wise woman who has helped me find my way through personal and professional chaos. Like her aunt before her, Jeanne has made the Westfield Athenaeum a better place for all who work or visit,” said said, adding Peer is an “unforgettable and a snappy dresser.”

Peer retired on June 30 and the Athenaeum staff already feels the loss of her presence.

“I can’t say enough about Jeanne,” Tumavicus said. “She is very intelligent, generous, thoughtful, hard-working, dedicated, wonderful friend, extremely kind and by far the best boss I have ever had.  The library has been so lucky to have her for all these years and won’t be the same without her.”


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