An interview with Walton Branch Manager, Sharon Franklin

Sharon Franklin, Branch Manager

“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

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.

A book led me half way across the world

Reading is an experience. A good book can make me laugh out loud or bring me to tears. There are books I can’t set down, and there are some that make me so emotional that I have to walk away and come back to them later.  This is the power of good books, which I come across all the time. Finding a good book is easy. Every once in a while though, I come across a great book, a book that quite literally changes my life.

One such book led me thousands of miles from home. The summer after I graduated high school, I devoured novel after novel by Kurt Vonnegut. He had won me over with Slaughterhouse Five (I even have a line from the book tattooed on me: Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.) and I could think of no better way to fill my free time than to read as much of his work as I could. Everything I read by Vonnegut was a treasure, but the most captivating by far was Galápagos. I was enthralled by the sweeping tale of the end of the human race.  

I loved the book for its fantastic story, but it also ignited in me a burning desire to see the islands it described.  I dreamt of making the voyage, and I was heartsick at the thought I might never be able to go (especially after seeing the price!) My mind wandered the Pacific the whole fall semester, but it snapped back to the present when I was signing up for spring classes and discovered that an honors course would be traveling to Ecuador and the Galápagos that May.

The cost of the trip still seemed prohibitive, but it was too serendipitous to ignore, and NKU has always been generous with their scholarships to study abroad.  The spring semester flew by, and before I knew it I was flying to Ecuador, reading The Hobbit on the way. My class spent two amazing weeks on the mainland before heading to the islands.

library biblioteca

By night the Golondrina ferried us across the sea, and by day we explored the islands. I swam with hammerheads and white tip reef sharks at the Devil’s Crown, trekked through subterranean lava tunnels, sent a postcard home from the Whaler’s Post Office, and met the endling Lonesome George.  The natural beauty of the islands took my breath away, and the wildlife stole my heart.  Every inch of the islands is rich with history, yet thanks to Vonnegut I couldn’t help but imagine a future a million years away.

Whaler’s Post Office

As the sun set on our last evening aboard the Golondrina, I immersed myself in the final few pages of The Hobbit. I had bookended my trip with it, starting the book on the way there and finishing it on the way back again. I closed the book, and as I looked out across the ocean I wondered where the next great book would take me.

Here are some photos from my trip.

Me in the lava caves

Galapagos Tortoise

Blue Footed Boobies and blue water

sea lions on the rocks

–Chelsea

Chelsea Swinford-Johantges is a Youth Services associate for Boone County Public Library. She graduated from NKU with a BA in English Literature, and is currently attending San Jose State University to get her MLIS. She’s always on the hunt for the next great book.