After a 30-year career in the county's library system, retiring Davis County Library Director Jeanne Layton is looking forward to some travel, some home gardening, and, of course, some time to read good books.
Layton announced she is retiring at the end of the year, making the announcement now to give the district's board time to search for a new director and make a smooth transition."I'm excited, I'm really looking forward to it," Layton said of her plans. "I'm only 60, which is a bit early to retire," she said, then, pondering for a moment the plans she has made, adds, "but maybe not."
Layton is best known for a 1979 incident in which she squared off against the Davis County commissioners, who ordered her to pull "Americana" by Don Delillo off the library shelf, terming it obscene.
Layton, after some reflection, refused on the grounds it is not the library's job to censor or dictate what its patrons read. What may be obscene or offensive to some is not to others, she told the commission.
The commission replied by firing her, and the case took on national proportions. Layton filed suit and a district court judge ordered her reinstated. She also won a subsequent lawsuit for damages.A decade later, Layton still believes she did the right thing, both for herself and for the library.
"It was a difficult time, both for myself and for the library system. There was a lot of turmoil and it was difficult for the staff because it divided their loyalties," Layton said.
"But after 10 years, I still believe it was a very good thing, both for the library and for me.
"The publicity focused attention on the library, it got people interested in it. People started coming in to see what we offered and our usage rate climbed dramatically," she said. "The library became important to the community."
Patrons also rallied around the idea of intellectual freedom and the right of persons to have access to books and information, even though that information may not be palatable to the majority, Layton said.
"As for me, in my own mind I had to justify what I thought intellectual freedom means. And I had to articulate that, the right of persons to make their own choices. That was good for me.
"But I didn't like the publicity," Layton said, referring to the media firestorm the fight generated.
"I couldn't go anywhere without strangers stopping me on the street, in the grocery store, even going to the restroom, asking me about it. I'm a private person, really, and that was difficult.
"I was on stage for three or four years. It was embarrassing to me, it was stressful. But the point had to be made," she said.
A trip to the San Juan Islands in the Northwest; a month in the Swiss and Austrian Alps; a few weeks on the coast of Maine: These are the first places that come to her mind when putting together a retirement itinerary.
The best part about the travel plans, she said, is the leisurely pace she's planning.
"It will be a treat to go somewhere, stay as long as I want, see the things I want to see, all without having to be back to work on some Monday morning," Layton said.
Other plans include serious gardening around her Kaysville home, enhanced by some college-level horticulture courses.
And then there are the books.
"I have a small library of books at home that I've acquired but haven't had time to read," said Layton, who's been the library system director since 1970. "Working in a library is a lot like working in a candy store. You can't spend all your time sampling the merchandise, there's just too much to do."
Layton has overseen the district's expansion from a single branch in Farmington to four branches. Growth has been internal, too, with the system offering audio and visual cassettes and other services in addition to printed material.
The system is computerized with a data base linked to libraries across the nation and into Europe.
Layton's own evaluation of the system?
"We're top flight in the area of service to the community. The system is as good as it is because we're service oriented. We're people people here," she said.
"Our branches are in good shape, we're especially proud of the new branch that opened in Layton. I think in the aspect of physical facilities, the branches, we can serve the county as it grows.
"Our collection desperately needs expansion; we have to grow there. Demand on the system is up; requests for services are increasing 15 to 20 percent a year. But we have to live within our strict budgetary guidelines," said Layton.
"Overall, as I go out the door, I'd give the system a B plus. Not an A, a B plus," Layton said.
What of "Americana," the volume that started the controversy?
It is no longer in the library's collection, removed by a board decision years ago.
Layton's own opinion of the book: "It was basically a well-written contemporary novel but a rather dull story. It had some literary merit, it was on reading lists of college contemporary literature courses," Layton said. "It had some four-letter words in it and an explicit sexual scene toward the end, but it was integral to the story line."
The assistant director of the Davis County Library District, Pete Giacoma, was named director as of Jan. 1 by the district board in a special meeting Friday morning.
Giacoma, 37, has been with the district for 10 years, the last 4 1/2 as assistant director.
Giacoma said the library district has made "remarkable progress in the past few years, especially since we computerized and constructed the Layton branch."
"I see no major types of changes in the library's future, other than a gradual and continual expansion of our services, continuing in the direction we've been moving."
Giacoma, a native of Salt Lake City, graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in English, then obtained a master's degree in library science from State University of New York, Buffalo, and a master's degree in public administration from the U.