Photo provided by Maxine (Palmer) Koberg taken early on the job in 1969 as a Civil Service clerical worker for Genesee Community College.
In October, 1969, Maxine Koberg (nee Palmer), was excited to start her new job as a clerical worker at the fledgling Genesee Community College.
The Batavia native had graduated from high school five years earlier and worked steadily since turning 18. When she found an opportunity to take a Civil Service test, she didn't hesitate and was subsequently delighted to learn she'd passed the clerical exam and was eligible for employment. After landing a job at the college, she said she liked it and was capable of performing the duties and she planned to stick with it.
And stick with it, she did, for more than 46 years.
"You don't think about it," Koberg said. "The years go by. You know you'll retire someday, but you don't really think about it. And now here I am."
It dawned on her recently that the familiar route commuting to and from the college and her home in Elba would no longer be part of her daily itinerary after Friday, which was her last day.
The original route was different in the beginning of her employment at GCC.
The campus at One College Road off Stephen R. Hawley Drive in the Town of Batavia did not yet exist.
The college was chartered in 1966 and its first digs were in 56,000 square feet of space in the "Valu Tech Center" on West Main Street in Batavia, which was home to the Valu department store. The first class of 378 full-time and 243 part-time students began their studies the following fall semester.
"In the beginning, I was working with students," Koberg said. "You tried to be helpful and they were fun and polite and you got to stay with them a couple of years. There were plenty 'please' and 'thank-yous'."
Koberg recalled the library was in front and there were a couple of offices in the back. Her department consisted of two clerks, including herself, a secretary and a Librarian David Brewster. Things were not computerized then. Keeping track of orders, payments, inventory, book loans, etc., was done manually.
In 1972, The Big Move to the new campus came. Boxing up the books and hauling them to the new location and organizing them -- "It was quite a big job," Koberg said. Staff supervised college students in the work/study program who did the bulk of the heavy lifting.
"When we first went to the new building, I was at the circulation desk. That's where you signed out books, reserved materials for students, and supervised the work/study students. And you greet everybody."
There was a growing population of international students, who could sometimes be difficult to understand because of the language barrier, Koberg said, but throughout the years, the 'please' and 'thank-yous' were abundantly offered. Although, as always, she noted some students have better manners than others. A noticeable difference campus-wide, of course, is the proliferation of electronic gadgets that students appear glued to.
At some point, she was asked if she wanted to leave the front desk and the students, and work on library's clerical staff ordering books and doing related tasks. She decided to take the challenge, which eventually included learning daunting new computer skills and paying bills.
"There was never a time when I didn't like working with books. I knew my programs and how to get books ordered and get them on the shelf. As courses changed, books changed -- like for our Allied Health Program -- but it's all office work."
Which means paying attention to details.
"Be careful about what you're doing, get the right books ordered, received and processed. Get the bills paid, in the right amount. Live within your budget. We have a good system and we work together."
After more than four decades on the job, her coworkers were like a second family and the workplace, a sort of home away from home. She says her colleagues held down the fort while she took two maternity leaves, helped her through some rough patches on the road of life, and she has appreciated their supportiveness, assistance and the camaraderie along the way.
The staff meshed at the Alfred C. O'Connell Library, named after the college's first president.
"We did work well together."
As for her newly retired status, it'll take some getting used to. No big plans afoot. No vacation in the works.
"I'm just going to take it day by day and see how it goes," Koberg said.