COLUMBUS — Few people can say they retired from their first full-time job.
At the end of October, Karen Hake will be part of that group.
Hake has spent the last 50 years as the Platte County Bookmobile librarian.
Over the past five decades she's made her rounds throughout the county, becoming a welcome sight at rural schools and communities.
While the job comes with its hazards — a sizable number of mechanical problems, precarious deer and inclement weather — Hake said the positives outweigh the negatives.
“The kids I would see on my routes became my own,” Hake said. “I think I’m up to the third or fourth generation with some of them. I was in Humphrey recently when this man comes up and tells me, ‘You knew my mom.' It’s wonderful to be able to say that.”
The Bookmobile position was the first full-time job Hake took after she completed her high school education, and she's the only person to serve as the county's mobile librarian.
After 50 years, she's ready to retire.
“It’s time,” Hake said. “Fifty years is enough.”
To ensure the transition is smooth, Hake started training her replacement, Stephanie Meyer, on Monday. After five weeks of training, Meyer will receive the keys from Hake and become the full-time Bookmobile driver and librarian.
She's learning quickly.
“She threw me into driving the first day,” Meyer said of Hake.
Meyer was born and raised in Columbus. Having spent most of her professional career in the preschool field, she decided the Bookmobile position would be a new adventure.
“I’m not nervous about the weather conditions,” she said. “If you live in Nebraska, you get it all. Every day is different. Besides, if the mobile breaks down, then I can call my fiancé. He’s a mechanic, so he’ll fix it.”
While Meyer is busy learning the routes and patrons' names, Hake is planning to take it easy after retirement.
“I think I’m going to spend some time with my husband,” Hake said. “We may travel a little bit here and there. I also need to catch up on things at home.”
Hake has confidence in her replacement.
“She is doing excellent so far and I have no complaints,” Hake said. “It’s time to pass the torch to my very good replacement. I haven’t even known her a week, but I already feel like she could be my daughter. I am anxious to see her succeed.”