“When I realized the work was about so much more than just reading and shelving, I knew I had found the best job in the world for me.”
Sharon Franklin is the Boone County Public Library Branch Manager of the Walton Branch. Not originally from Boone County, Sharon grew up in northwest Ohio near a town called Van Wert, very close to the Indiana state line. She considers this corn, wheat, and beans country, rich farmland and absolutely flat. Sharon only remembers a few things about her life before libraries. “There is a snapshot of me at age 3 wearing a pink felt cowgirl hat and pulling up yellow tulips in my great-aunt Minnie’s front yard. I was the first grandchild on that side of the family so got away with murder. In first grade, I was the little blue angel on top of the Christmas tree in our school performance, and I was so scared that I couldn’t let go of Art Linton’s hand when it was time for him to close the stage curtain (it was a very small school).”
Sharon recalls developing her love for libraries at a young age. “At age 14, my mom was frequently disgusted with me because I was always sneaking away to a corner to read when she needed help in the kitchen. ‘You just need to get a job in a library!’ she would say. At age 15, I did get a job as a page in the children’s department of our public library. My interview was on a Saturday afternoon; I went dressed in my Sunday suit with a short skirt and 3 inch pumps, typical ‘60s attire. They wanted me to start two minutes after the interview! By 5pm, I could barely walk and my back was aching from trying not to show any underwear as I shelved the books on the bottom shelf. But I was hooked! And when I realized the work was about so much more than just reading and shelving, I knew I had found the best job in the world for me.”
Sharon has a long history with libraries and considers herself lucky in her library life. “I worked in libraries all during high school, college and grad school. As mentioned, my career started in high school as a page at Brumback Library, which was the first tax-supported county-wide public library system in the US in 1899. It is a unique building that looks like a stone castle, has a turret room with crenelated roof and enormous double doors at the front. I attended graduate school at the University of Denver and in 1971, I was the second employee hired for the medical school library in Duluth. The building was totally underground. From December through March, I went to work in the dark and came home in the dark. I worked in an architectural gem of a library building in Toledo, Ohio, which owned a complete regular-print OED, the first one I had ever seen on open shelves. I was trained on MEDLINE at the National Library of Medicine in DC and trekked around faculty offices and Duluth hospitals with my portable 25 pound Texas Instruments data terminal with a telephone modem to demonstrate my skills.”
Sharon has been with BCPL for 17.5 years. “My favorite thing about BCPL is my incredible co-workers! The one constant in my library adventures has been the amazing people I have encountered. On both sides of the desk, I have met so many kind, interesting, and creative people. More than books or movies or databases, I believe libraries are about the connections made between people. Libraries are institutions that matter.”
Sharon is a true asset to Boone County Public Library!
Jennifer Cheek is the Public Relations Specialist at Boone County Public Library. A graduate from the College of Mount St. Joseph focusing on English and Communications, she previously worked in Advertising/Media Buying and still continues as a freelancer.