Tribute paid to beloved librarian

December 28, 2017

Much of the community was saddened to learn of the passing of popular Benalla Librarian Sue-Ellen Blundell.

Sue-Ellen, who passed away earlier this year, was a popular figure in the community, with many remembering her help when they were children looking for a new book to read.

She worked at Benalla Library for more than 17 years and was instrumental in securing the library’s current location.

Jacob Chacko, who grew up in Benalla said to him she was much more than just a librarian.

‘‘When my family arrived in Benalla, my father made a regular practice of making sure that my sister and I visited the library after Saturday morning sport,’’ Mr Chacko said.

‘‘ It was part of our weekend ritual — walking into the library covered in dirt or sunscreen after hockey, cricket or tennis — to see the smiling face of Sue-Ellen greeting us with a friendly hello from behind the counter.

‘‘The next couple of hours were spent badgering Sue-Ellen about books or magazines I wanted to read, dodging awkward questions about library fines, and walking out of the library with 10 books about origami, magic, or whatever phase I was in at the time.

‘‘I often lean on books to learn, to be comforted, to escape — it’s even a big part of my work.

‘‘Sue-Ellen was not only a witness to that relationship, she helped foster it.

‘‘I’ll always be grateful for her sagacity and warmth, and it’s not just me. I’m sure she has had this impact on many others.

‘‘Sue-Ellen was a great friend of the Benalla Library and was a tireless campaigner in securing our new library space.

‘‘She leaves behind a legacy of bringing books to the lives of many — something to be very proud of.’’

Robyn Maclean knew Sue-Ellen better than most.

In her role as president of the Friends of Benalla Library she worked closely with Sue-Ellen for many years.

‘‘To see Sue-Ellen conducting Rhyme Time, a singing program designed especially for babies, was a joy,’’ Ms Maclean said.

‘‘It was a delight to see her singing, surrounded by happy babies and their mothers.

‘‘She made this program a special time as she believed it was one of the first steps in the learning journey of babies.

‘‘Library patrons were always full of praise for Sue-Ellen.

‘‘She was always eager to assist them and nothing was ever too much trouble for her.

‘‘She had good people skills and made sure she got to know visitors to the library, using her diverse knowledge to help people pursue their particular interest.

‘‘Sue-Ellen was supportive of the campaign to establish a modern library for Benalla.

‘‘She frequently contributed her ideas and her expertise to help with the lobbying required at the time.

‘‘The entire library community loved Sue-Ellen.

‘‘The Benalla community owes much to her work over many years and her memory is honoured.’’

Ms Maclean’s sentiments are echoed by much of the community and all who worked with Sue-Ellen.

Library coordinator Deb Saunders said Sue-Ellen was a great mentor and her support was invaluable.

‘‘The library community was enriched by Sue-Ellen’s experience, knowledge and patience when assisting others,’’ Ms Saunders said.

‘‘Sue-Ellen was involved in a range of children and adult programs and activities throughout her years at the library.

‘‘Her wisdom, gentle encouragement and her radiant smile are my fondest memories of her.’’

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