Features

Going back to Bethel College’s Root

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Dr. Clyde Root, director of library services, has spent the past 20 years working in the Otis Bowen Library at Bethel College (Photo by Michelle Stoller).
Dr. Clyde Root, director of library services, has spent the past 20 years working in the Otis Bowen Library at Bethel College (Photo by Michelle Stoller).
I first met Dr. Clyde Root, director of library services, through my brother. During his time at Bethel, my brother worked as Dr. Root’s assistant in the library, running errands and indexing periodicals. Most notorious of these periodicals was the dread magazine known as “The Mennonite”, which my brother claimed he would be “indexing for eternity.” Having become acquainted with Root, I was privileged to interview him for The Bethel Beacon. I began by asking him how long he has worked at Bethel College, and whether he is planning to retire sometime in the future. “Twenty years,” he said, indicating a commemorative plaque on his desk. “I don’t plan to retire. I remember what’s written in scripture: ‘Occupy yourselves until I come.’ I have so much energy.” Root has always worked in libraries, taught and preached—his three goals. “You always find me talking about goals,” he added. When given the opportunity to work at Bethel, he interviewed with library staff members, who passed the results of the interview on to Dr. Norman Bridges. He was hired and has been working in the library ever since. When asked if there were any incidents or events that have stood out to him during his time at Bethel, he stated the accomplishments in the library are the most memorable. “The compact shelving has quite a story behind it,” he said. The original plan had been to expand the library, but the budget hadn’t stretched nearly far enough. After three years, the library found an alternative in movable shelves, which provided shelf space at a more affordable price. “You don’t get everything done in the first year,” he concluded. Root’s work in the library has proved very rewarding. “I love people, no matter who they are—students, faculty, staff, board,”“he said. “To put a book on a shelf is great, but to see lives change is most rewarding. There’s a guiding principle: it’s all about Christ, and all about the other person.” Even still, he said the work has not been without its frustrations. “Sometimes staff attitudes and performance,” he said when asked about the difficulties. “Sometimes the budget gets a little tight. Bethel is pretty good about the budget. Students don’t bother me,” he added, laughing. “I was a student once—long ago.” Root said he just really enjoys being at Bethel.. “I am every day excited about coming to work, and when 4 or 4:30 rolls around I’m reluctant to go home,” he said. “I love the atmosphere and the people here. I hope that my passion—and compassion—is demonstrated in what I do.”
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