By Marcus Heerdt
HOT SPRINGS – Hot Springs Public Library Director Dawn Johnson has retired after 14 years, five-and-one-half of which were spent as Library Director. Her last day on the job was Thursday, July 1. Johnson started working at the library in 2007 as the Children’s Librarian.
“I will miss reading stories to the kids, helping out the public, and doing research in the Helen Magee Heritage Room,” Johnson said.
Some of Johnson’s favorite memories involve teaching adult education classes at the library, just one of the many tasks of the job.
“I enjoyed teaching adult computer classes when they figure out that using a computer is not that hard…the look on their face when they ‘get it,’” said Johnson.
Johnson went on to say, “I will miss working with the public and helping them along with their day. I wish all of the library’s successes will continue and that the library will remain the center of the community.”
Margaret (Peggy) Exum, who previously served as Library Director for 17 years from 1990 to 2007, has returned to Hot Springs from Tennessee and began work at the library again on Monday, June 14.
Exum grew up in Hot Springs and is a 1970 graduate of Hot Springs High School.
Her husband Roger served as the Hot Springs Chief of Police from 1995-2007.
In 2007, the Exum’s moved to Clinton, Tennessee, where Roger once again worked in law enforcement and Peggy as an event coordinator at the Museum of Appalachia.
Roger died of cancer on May 13, 2020, at the Exum home in Tennessee.
With the library director position open and her 94-year-old mother living in Hot Springs, Exum decided that a move back to the city was the right thing to do.
“I felt it was my duty to come back and work at the library again. I mostly want to pay back all of the people who worked so hard to get the new library building built. I look forward to seeing all the new faces that come to the library and those who were kids when I worked here previously that now have kids of their own,” Exum said.
Jane Farrell, Hot Springs Library Board President, said, “Dawn will leave a lasting impression on the library. She worked hard getting the Helen Magee Heritage Room organized to become usable by the public and consumer-friendly. The room is a true asset to the community. We are excited to have Peggy back as she was a beloved Library Director when she was in the position the first time.”