Billie Mae Polson, the director of technical services at UNLV's James R. Dickinson Library, will retire June 30 after 40 years of service to the university.
She will be honored at a reception scheduled for 3-5 p.m. April 7 in the lobby of Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall.
Polson has been employed at UNLV longer than any other person. She first arrived on campus in the summer of 1959 when the university was still known as the Southern Regional Division of the University of Nevada.
"When I first came here, they had just paved Maryland Parkway," Polson said. "But other than that, it was two buildings and desert."
Polson was one of two librarians hired by the university in 1959. She supervised cataloging and reference in the one-room library in Maude Frazier Hall; her duties remained the same when the library moved to Archie C. Grant Hall a few months later.
Polson went on to serve as acting head librarian for a two-year period in the early 1960s. During that time, she supervised the library's move into the first floor of the round portion of the Dickinson Library and then its move onto the second and third floors of the building as they were completed.
"The growth on this campus during my 40 years has been phenomenal," Polson said. "We have gone from 150 students to 20,000 and from a library budget of $17,000 to $3.2 million."
While Polson has been involved in designing the layout of the technical services department of the new Lied Library, she will retire before the move into the new facility takes place.
"I've participated in moving the library several times already. I don't think I have the energy for another one," Polson laughs. "But the new library will be really great for everyone involved."
"You don't replace someone like Billie," said Kenneth Marks, UNLV's dean of libraries. "You clearly can't. We are going to lose a lot of history when Billie leaves."
Polson's last official act as a university employee will be to lead the procession of the class of '99 into the Thomas & Mack Center during one of UNLV's two graduation ceremonies on May 15.