After 38 years, the book has been closed on Ann Marie Wentworth's time as Hesperia's librarian.


Wentworth began her career at a 2,000-square-foot library on Walnut Street that's now a church.


"I enjoyed the work," Wentworth said. "Hesperia was a very sweet community. It only had about 8,000 people. Very small, very homey."


She was there for the library moving to a 5,000-square-foot Main Street location, which is now a real estate office. Then Wentworth oversaw the move to the almost 20,000-square-foot branch location next to City Hall, now serving a population of more than 90,000.


"I grew to love Ann Marie and the ladies who worked there who were endlessly cheerful or were always looking on the bright side of every situation," said Rebekah Swanson, founding president of the Friends of the Library. Swanson has known Wentworth since 1985. "She was able to retain people who loved the community and went above and beyond."


Since its earliest days, the library was a major hub for the community. Today, it's the third most active site in the 31-branch San Bernardino County library system, trailing the much larger communities of Fontana and Chino Hills.


"It has always been a very well-used facility," Wentworth said.


Things have changed in the decades since Wentworth first arrived to the little library on Walnut Street. Overdue book fines have risen from 5 cents a day to 50 cents, and the world has gone electronic.


"I've been in this business for 38 years and ever since computers appeared, people said, 'Oh, books are going to disappear,'" she said. "Personally, I think paper books are always going to be with us, although there is definitely a place for electronic-based books."


Wentworth retired on July 15, just shy of her 39th year as the city's librarian.


"The county library and the county in general, with the current fiscal reality, had to go through a bit of a budget reduction and a staffing reduction," said Leonard Hernandez, head librarian for San Bernardino County.


Unlike other branches, Hesperia didn't have a reduction in hours or services. Instead, it suffered personnel cuts.


To keep her job through the downsizing, Wentworth would have had to commute to Rialto. Since she was planning to retire soon anyway, she decided to step down. Susan Hamm a supervisor who's been at the Hesperia library for a couple of months will take over the position, according to Hernandez.


So now, Wentworth is catching up on a backlog of projects at home that she never previously had time for.


"I'm still going to be part of the library," she said. "I'm a Friends of the Library member. I'm just not managing the building."


And after a lifetime serving Hesperia's patrons, Wentworth has no regrets.


"I've been at the library for 38 years and it doesn't seem that long. It just speeds right along," she said.


"She's just been at the heart of the heart of our community," Swanson said. "I'm glad she was there at the door."


Beau Yarbrough may be reached at (760) 956-7108 or at beau@HesperiaStar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.