HSLS Administrative Secretary Retires after Four Decades of Service

Mary Lou O’Shea, HSLS administrative secretary, retired at the end of June after almost 40 years of service. During her tenure, she worked under five library directors, including: Carroll F. Reynolds, Laurabelle Eakin, June Bandemer, Pat Mickelson, and Barbara Epstein.

Over the years, O’Shea witnessed a number of technological changes. One of her more notable memories was the transition from electric typewriters to computers, and the impact these changes had on her workflow. In 1973, when O’Shea began her career at HSLS, her primary office equipment was an IBM electric typewriter. Ten years later, she moved up to a Xerox Memorywriter with correctable ribbon, and eventually a computer.

The move to computerized documentation allowed her to complete job duties more quickly and efficiently. In 1973, in order to prepare 10 copies of a letter, the letter had to be typed 10 times and Liquid Paper was used to correct any mistakes. This task could potentially take most of a day to complete. With the advent of computer technology and high speed printers, producing the same letter 10 times can now be completed in a fraction of the time. She also noted that e-mail has virtually replaced the need for typewritten letters. At that time, e-mail and fax machines were still being developed for everyday use.

Budget “level sheets,” which are still used to monitor revenues and expenses, required digging through large stacks of paper in order to track a payment. One of O’Shea’s original job duties was to maintain a file of index cards on which she marked the arrival of newly purchased books and journals. Each book and journal had its own index card. The information on the index cards was then entered manually into the paper level sheets. Today, those same tasks are accomplished electronically.

O’Shea also commented on the expansion of library staff from 23 FTE in the 1970s to 53 today. This growth was due in large part to advances in technology, and the greatly expanded range of services provided by HSLS to our users.

O’Shea is looking forward to new adventures in retirement, including both domestic and international travel. She is a long-time patron of Pittsburgh CLO and the Pittsburgh Broadway Series and plans to continue attending those cultural events. Now that she’ll be at home more, she’s also thinking about getting a dog, perhaps a Boston Terrier puppy.

We wish Mary Lou the very best!

~ Jill Foust