After nearly 38 years working as a reference librarian at the North Providence Union Free Library, Joseph Uscio counts the past year and half as his most memorable time spent working in the public library. Despite being closed for 2 months, NPR got back into action with curbside pickup, like so many libraries, keeping the staff very busy. Joe related that, despite the lack of library delivery, he and his coworkers served patrons by pulling their holds, weeding the collection, and offering a free library of those weeded books. “People really like it,” he enthused.
When asked what he plans to do in retirement, he quipped that he will spend more time with his 10-year-old son, “before I fall apart.” He will continue cultivating his love of Japanese culture which began in 1990. He became friends with local residents originally from Japan after asking if they could help him learn more about a folding screen he owned. Those folks have since returned to Japan, meaning he has no one with whom to practice his Japanese language learning. On the other hand, Joe is an accomplished player of the shinobue, a type of Japanese flute. He was recently asked to play at the Black Ships Festival in Newport, but he declined. He enjoys martial arts since it is a lifetime pursuit. He has a particular interest in Japanese swordsmanship. Martial arts is something he shares with his son who has been involved with karate and kung fu since he was 5.
Joe is well-known in North Providence and is often stopped at the grocery store by folks asking him if their books have come in. He said he feels a bit like a celebrity in town, so the feature story in the Valley Breeze seemed par for the course. Working in the same place for so many years means that he actually worked at the smaller library that existed on George Street, because NPR relocated to its current location on Mineral Spring Avenue.
Joe loves helping people, and the relationships he has forged with patrons and especially staff, whom he considers as an extended family. With his interests in music, science, art, and literature, Joe feels that to be an effective librarian, a person’s entire background comes into play.