In thinking of the people who work behind the scenes to allow for Seton’s success, Garnet Brandt came to staffers’ minds. Brandt is Seton’s librarian and has been a part of Seton for the past 23 years. She is a member of St. Patrick Parish in Ottumwa and faithfully attends Mass each day. It is usually after Mass and breakfast at McDonald’s with her friends that she makes her way to Seton.
Brandt first became associated with Seton when she and three other women — Diane Haas, Diane Little and Jeannie Carol — began working together to create a central library for the school. At the time, Brandt was the media coordinator at the Area Education Agency and would come to Seton after work or on Sundays after Mass.
She spent a great deal of time going through the books that were in place, which at that time were mainly old textbooks. She also assisted the ladies in fundraising ideas for purchasing books and assisted in guiding the purchasing.
Brandt remembers one of the women’s first goals was to secure funding to have a VCR on each floor of the school. She marvels at how far Seton has come in the fact that now all teachers have a VCR and DVD player in their own room.
She recalls that there were probably 200 to 300 books in the library at the time and today, 23 years later, there are nearly 6,000, as well as 25 recently purchased computers for student use, not to mention 12 magazine subscriptions!
When Brandt retired from the AEA in 2000, she began donating her time during the day to the mission of the library. Today she is paid a small stipend for her time spent keeping our library at the level of “one of the best in town” and for her time in teaching library skills to the students in grades kindergarten to six.
Brandt remembers that prior to the library being funded, four individuals paid to have the library belong to the Library Guild in order to receive top-quality books in a timely manner. Today, the library has its own budget, receives gifts annually, and has numerous families who purchase books to celebrate their child’s birthday and donate the books in their child’s honor. The Home and School organization also donates books through its book fairs, held twice a year.
Brandt shares that in the beginning there were enough shelves, but as the library grew more shelves were needed. She recalls a father, Sam Wagner, constructed shelves, and a local store donated shelves as it was replacing its own shelving.
Brandt is most proud of “how the library has grown and how I have enjoyed it and have tried to manage a good library and get along with all the little kids and staff.” The staff would say she certainly has done both well!
Brandt spent her life prior to coming to Ottumwa as a nun in the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent DePaul. She made simple vows for 20 years, and still goes on retreat yearly with a dear friend. She takes great pride in the fact that Mother Seton, the school’s namesake, eventually joined the same order that Brandt had.
Her prior work was teaching junior-high and high-school students. “I even oversaw the creation of 12 yearbooks in my career,” she said.