SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – After 56 years on the job, a man who has helped turn the Lackawanna County library system into what it is today is finally closing one chapter of his life.

Next week, Jack Finnerty will officially step down as the library system’s executive director.

Lackawanna County commissioners honored Jack Finnerty with a special proclamation this week.

They honored him for more than five decades with the Lackawanna County Library System.

“I just feel it was an incredible blessing, incredible blessing!” Jack Finnerty said.

Finnerty first walked through the doors of the Albright Memorial Library at the age of 15.

He was hired to re-file magazines for 50 cents an hour.

He never left, working his way up to executive director.

“I never set out to be a librarian. I certainly never set out to have one employer for my entire career,” Finnerty said.

Judi Keller has worked alongside Finnerty for most of his time.

“We’ve always looked up to him and he’s put us in a better place,” Judi Keller said.

Co-workers say Finnerty always put patrons first.

He’s focused on changing technology and has emphasized children’s programs, saying public libraries change lives.

“He’s never really told us no as long as it’s in the best interest of the families and the community,” Laureen O’Handley, head of the children’s services said.

As he looks back on his career, Finnerty says one of the defining moments was in 1982 when Lackawanna County passed a referendum creating a dedicated county library tax.

He says that has helped make this system a model across the commonwealth.

“People of Lackawanna County are very savvy. They know what they value and they know without their support it wouldn’t be there!” Finnerty said.

Finnerty says he’s looking forward to transitioning from library director to library patron as of next Wednesday.

Another current employee, Scott Thomas, will take over as the library system’s new executive director.