OWOSSO — Steven Flayer, the director of the Shiawassee District Library since January 2008, Friday announced his retirement, effective Nov. 30.
Flayer has worked in libraries for 53 years, his career interrupted only by three years of active duty in the U.S. Army. His first “job” was as a library page in sixth grade.
“It’s time,” Flayer said. “One of the highlights from my tenure here has been the upkeep of this magnificent historic building (in Owosso). I’ve been lucky enough to be here for many improvements.”
The SDL is located in Owosso and Durand, and serves the cities of Durand and Owosso, and Bennington, Owosso and Rush townships.
Since 2008, the Owosso branch, 502 W. Main St., has seen a new circulation system and tile roof installed, the adult section painted in four colors and this past week a new floor laid in the children’s library. The children’s library also has been painted.
Services added under Flayer’s leadership include downloadable books and magazines. The library has forged closer ties with county historical groups. Recently, he directed the addition of a paper archive room containing news articles, pamphlets and donated photographs.
The library also has started a digital archive of local school yearbooks, Durand Express and Argus-Press newspapers, and James Oliver Curwood materials housed inside the Owosso library. Programming for children and adults has increased.
“(Flayer) is definitely dedicated. The preservation of history is very important to him,” Technical Services Librarian Nicole Stewart said. “And he will always help the staff, something you don’t often see a library director do.”
Stewart said her admiration for Flayer’s work is shared by SDL Assistant Director Margaret Bentley, Children’s Librarian Natalie Young and Secretary Cindy Brunger.
Prior to joining the staff at SDL, Flayer served for 30 years as the director of library/media services at Tri-County Schools in western Michigan.
He said the biggest change in libraries he has witnessed over the years is the application of advanced technology.
He and his wife, Carol Flayer, live in Clayton Township in Genesee County. The couple plans to travel (at least Carol plans to, her husband said with a chuckle) and visit family in the area.
Steven Flayer enjoys working his woodshop, and is adept at electrical and plumbing work. At one point, he owned 5,000 books. After his knees and back “went bad,” he was forced to “ruthlessly” pare down his collection to about 300 books.
“Believe me, after I’m retired I will be spending a fair amount of time in the Genesee County Library,” he said.
The couple’s son, Scott Stadler, lives in Grand Blanc. In 2010, they lost a daughter, Jessica Lirones-Flayer, to a genetic disorder at age 21.
Flayer said he will miss library work.
However, “I am ready to hand the reins over to a new director who will continue to grow Shiawassee District Library beyond where it is now. We have a very positive library board, staff, and community in our district, and I know they will support the new director.”
The SDL board is currently seeking a new director. Applicants must hold a master’s degree in library or information science, or the equivalent, and have five years’ public library experience.