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Remembering Ryan Library’s Beryl Pagan

With National Library Week having passed, Ryan Library will continue to reflect on what has made it special. One of the library’s instructional services librarian, Beryl Pagan, died on Monday after working at PLNU for 22 years.

Pagan was hospitalized on April 10th, due to breathing complications caused by birth defects. Her condition worsened until she passed in the early morning according to Philip Tyler, professor of music and Pagan’s cousin. She was 53 years old.

“She had 12-14 percent of her lung capacity. So even though she was being assisted with a CPAP machine, it wasn’t enough to keep her alive and so she passed this morning at 3:10,” said Tyler on Monday, referring to the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine used to assist her in breathing.

In recent weeks Pagan’s health had declined and according to Tyler she had been suffering from a nosebleed caused by the CPAP device.

Pagan was the Ryan Library liaison for the Music department at PLNU along with the school of Theology & Christian Ministry and the department of Mathematical, Information & Computer Sciences.

Tyler, and many of Pagan’s co- workers at the library, remember her for her welcoming and friendly personality.

“Everyone she encountered was her best friend; I think that about sums it up,” said Tyler. “She was brilliant and brave and witty, and people at Starbucks kept misspelling her name, that’s one of the things she was famous for on Facebook.”

She had many responsibilities, but for years one of Pagan’s most noticeable jobs was demonstrated by the posters depicting the favorite books of the many students, faculty, and staff participating in National Library Week.

She made them all.

Every year the walls of the library’s foyer are lined with posters showing a small photo of the participant and a group of thumbnails – their five books – surrounding them as a modest form of identity.

It was a project that captured all of Pagan’s attention, according to those who worked with her. Even when her health made work difficult, she wanted to make sure the project was completed.

“She was really concerned that she hadn’t had a chance to get all the posters digitized and up on the website, because she does that every year,” said Dr. Denise Nelson about the project. “…She just wanted to make sure that the things that matter, happened.”

Nelson worked with Pagan as an Instructional Services Librarian for 21 years. To her, Pagan’s friendliness was one of the most prominent aspects of her personality.

“Beryl made everybody feel like they were her best friend, and it was absolutely sincere,” said Nelson. “It’s like, if she knew you, she cared about you, and if she cared about you it wasn’t just like ‘Hey, how are you?’ it was like she wanted to know your life, she wanted to know what you were working on, she wanted to know what she could do to help.”

Pagan joined the university faculty in 1994 and was an alumna of Point Loma Nazarene College having received a Certificate in Computer Science in 1985, and a B.A. in Music Theory at Point Loma College the year before that. She earned a Masters in Library Science from UCLA the same year she came to PLNU where she would practice that vocation for more than two decades.

As a member of the Association of Christian Librarians (ACL) she served as publicity coordinator of the Christian Periodical Index Team and was honored as the organization’s “Volunteer of the Year” award in 2011.

At the time of her death she was serving as Member and Chair of PLNU’s Faculty Retreat Committee as well as Board Secretary and Board Member of the San Diego First Church of the Nazarene.

“She lived her Christian life as a real testimony to faith in Christ and to God’s keeping in her life, and she was always one of the folks you could just count on,” said university President Bob Brower.

One of the things Pagan leaves be- hind is a recognition among those who cared for her of all the things she loved, including music, literature, the Padres and her work at the university.

Every homecoming she would en- courage everyone to eat at Miguel’s Cocina, said Brower, there the restaurant would offer a 10% contribution for mu- sic scholarships.

“It personified her helping-others kind of lifestyle,” Brower said.

Her respect for the restaurant got her noticed. Among her coworkers she was called “the restaurant Queen,” said Doug Fruehling via email, he too was one of her fellow librarians at Ryan Library.

According to him the wait staff at Miguel’s would recognize her, and whenever she visited they would approach and ask simply, “‘the usual?’”

The “usual” was not on their menu but something she ordered repeatedly.

“It was an order Miguel’s happily filled,” said Fruehling.

Pagan had been taught piano by her mother as a young girl, according to Nelson. Her love for music pervaded much of her life, and when she adopted a stray cat which turned out to be deaf, it seemed only fitting that she name it Beethoven.

One of the few things she may have loved as much as music was the Padres. During Brower’s occasional visits to Petco Park, he would sometimes run into Pagan and there the two could talk about baseball. Her love of America’s game was something those who knew her, knew best.

“She was always at a Padres game, or she was with friends, or she was doing music, or she was involved in the church, or invested in the lives of students, so she was never passive in life,” said senior Emily Lehman, a student library worker for the past two years, “she was always proactive.”

Lehman shared Nelson’s perception of Pagan as someone who found interest in how things were going with others, someone with whom a conversation was more than just surface level.

According to Nelson, she always wanted to connect with people, and to help them with whatever they were working on.

“You know there are some people who are just cheerleaders in life? Beryl was in every way a cheerleader for every person she knew,” said Nelson.

“Beryl was the heart and soul of Ryan Library, and she will be terribly missed,” said the Director of Ryan Library, Frank

Quinn via email.
When students and faculty walk into the library, there on the walls are posters for everyone who participated in National Library Week.

On the left side: tucked unassumingly into the many symbols of all her life’s hard work is Pagan’s own favorite books, the Harry Potter series, a memoir by U2’s “Bono,” Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Cary Elwes’ “As You Wish,” and “The Princess Bride” by William Goldman.




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Jonathan Soch

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