After serving 16 years as a librarian in Santa Clara, Mary Boyle is checking out of the library. She retires on Dec. 20.
She has served as local history/genealogy librarian — and sleuth — since 2014.
“I really value family. They make us who we are,” said Boyle, a Sunnyvale resident. “And I value history. It’s interesting to unravel the puzzle of where you came from.”
“It has been rewarding helping people with their information needs and learning how to get the information, whether it is in a book or from the internet,” said Boyle. “I love helping people find documents that help them learn things about their families that they didn’t know.”
Boyle’s Central Park Library niche was upstairs in the Heritage Pavilion, where she assisted patrons such as Santa Clara resident Joan Yamamoto.
“We found her father’s naturalization record and a passenger list with him on it in 1914. We also found his parents’ arrival information and a clue about a brother in Japan that she didn’t know about,” said Boyle, a Wisconsin native with an MA Degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
An unusual twist to Boyle’s job was creating and leading tours of Mission City Memorial Park, Santa Clara’s city-owned cemetery, where many prominent in shaping local history now rest.
“When you become a librarian, you don’t realize that you’ll someday be doing a cemetery tour,” said Boyle, who was children’s librarian in Sunnyvale from 1999 until becoming an adult services librarian in Santa Clara in 2004.
City Librarian Hilary Keith expressed appreciation for Boyle’s service to the community.
“As Mary Boyle retires from her position as genealogist and local historian, it is important to recognize the difference she has made in people’s lives,” said Keith.
“With every family tree she researched, our roots grew stronger,” said Keith. “With every document she preserved, our city’s history became more complete. Mary’s work has been invaluable to our patrons as individuals and to all of us as a community. Her retirement is well-deserved and she will be greatly missed.”
In retirement, Boyle will have more time to research her own family and travel to where they lived — from Ireland to Vermont, where a 3rd great grandfather was a Revolutionary War Green Mountain Boy, which qualified her to join the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Boyle will continue with organizations like the Santa Clara County Historical and Genealogical Society and already has teaching engagements lined up. Plus, she’ll have time to write and sew quilts.
“Being a librarian in an American public library is uniquely democratic. All are welcome for free professional assistance,” said Boyle. “It feels marvelous to have been helping people with their research and reading needs for so many years.”
“Mary helped people unearth the most important information there is — the stories of their past. And in doing so, she has allowed these stories to live on into the future,” said Keith.