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Assistant County Librarian Amy Paget Retires
The Tippecanoe County Public Library (TCPL) announces the retirement of long-time employee Amy Paget. Amy’s 25-year career at TCPL began in 1991 at the Albert A. Wells Memorial Library. In 2004 Amy became the Assistant County Librarian. Additional responsibilities over the years included Head of Youth Services and Head of Extension Services.
“TCPL has greatly benefited from the breadth of skills, professional expertise, and integrity Amy Paget brings to her work and our operations. Many say Amy is a ‘jack of all trades,’ but she is a consummate professional who really helped TCPL day-to-day operations flow smoothly,” said County Librarian Jos N. Holman. “Her talent and fundraising skills were heavily used in her role as Planning and Development Librarian. She served as operational liaison with the Tippecanoe County Public Library Foundation for the past 15 years.
“Amy has been a tremendous resource for the Tippecanoe County Public Library Foundation's Board of Directors,” said Foundation Board President Tony Albrecht. “Her organizational skills have been invaluable as the Foundation Board works to raise funds to support Library programs and capital needs, as well as growth of the library system. She will be sorely missed, and we wish her well in retirement.”
On her final day at work, Wednesday, April 12, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., the public is invited to share memories and good wishes with Amy. This casual event occurs in the Friends of TCPL Conference Room at the Downtown Library. Refreshments will be served.
“Having worked here for more than 25 years, this will be a major staffing change for TCPL,” Holman said. “Although Mrs. Paget cannot be replaced, the Assistant County Librarian position is being advertised nationally and statewide. We wish Amy well in all the future adventures and endeavors she may pursue!”
Amy is active in various community activities and national organizations. She and her family plan to remain in Lafayette for the foreseeable future.
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IndyPL’s Sharon Bernhardt: 50 Years of Dedicated Service
This year’s observance of National Library Week, April 9 – 15, celebrates the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians to promote and support library use. The Indianapolis Public Library is proud to share the story of the longest-tenured librarian in the Library’s illustrious 144 year history.
From her beginnings as a page in 1967 to her current role as overseer of eight Library branches, Sharon Bernhardt reflects upon her career at The Indianapolis Public Library as her life’s one constant that, in turn, has afforded her great opportunities to grow and adapt over the decades.
This year, IndyPL celebrates Bernhardt’s 50th year of continuous service, the most for any Library employee past or present. Her introduction to the Library as a page at the Eagle Branch, then located in a strip center on Tibbs Avenue, served as “a good first ‘real’ job” while attending Northwest High School.
Continuing to work at the Library throughout her post-secondary schooling, Bernhardt graduated in 1973 from Marian College (now University) with the goal of becoming a social worker. “But at that time in my life I wasn’t ready for that, so I stayed with the Library.” After earning her Masters of Library Science in 1978, Bernhardt’s stay has become her calling.
Tracking Bernhardt’s travels throughout the Library system is as daunting as it is impressive. After two stints at the Eagle Branch as a clerk and library assistant, she moved to the Haughville Branch where she was a children’s librarian for four years. Next it was on to the former Marwood Branch for four years as a children’s librarian. Her first branch manager’s position came at the former Prospect Branch where she also served as the children’s librarian.
Then came positions at the former Wanamaker Branch as manager and adult librarian; a return to the Eagle Branch as manager (“at that time my lifelong career goal”); manager at the Nora Branch and Area Resource Manager for eight Library locations. “In addition to my ARM duties, I am the circulation ARM working with patron issues, process and policy changes.”
In 2015, Bernhardt was named Interim Director of Public Services, a position highlighted by her focus on the merger of the Beech Grove Public Library with IndyPL in the summer of 2016. She has now returned to the ARM role where her attention is split among the Nora, Glendale, College Avenue, Fountain Square, Garfield Park, Southport and Beech Grove branches, as well as the InfoZone in The Children’s Museum.
What differences does Bernhardt observe in library service today compared to the 60s and 70s? “That was a long time ago, but we had shorter hours and didn’t open until noon three days a week. Only Central Library was open on Sunday. I guess you could say things were simpler, but I wouldn’t say things were slower because we had less staff with the reduced hours. I think we knew our patrons better because everything required staff assistance…there was no self-service.”
Bernhardt experienced first-hand the transformation of library services from the card catalog to computerized transactions, such as reserving materials via the online catalog. Whereas these changes have improved access, they elicit from Bernhardt a note of nostalgia. “Back in the day we used a photo-charging checkout system where we actually photographed a person’s library card, as well as the card with the information about the book and a transaction card that was connected to the due date for the material. Oh, how things have changed!”
It’s said in the library profession that “once a children’s librarian, always a children’s librarian.”
It’s that role for which Bernhardt is most remembered by patrons even today. “Sharon was a young, personable, outgoing employee at that time,” says Paula Guthrie, who took her children to the Eagle Branch in the late 60s and early 70s. “She always took time to greet us when we came in, which was pretty much weekly. Stephen, my then six-year-old always looked for her.” Guthrie remembers Bernhardt being taken aback when she brought Stephen’s son to the library some 30 years later. “I’ll never forget the look on her face when she made the connection to the six-year-old all those years ago. Sharon is a special person and we are all very fortunate to have had her in our lives.”
Patron Gloria Keating also remembers Bernhardt during those early years at the Eagle Branch. “It was our Wednesday tradition for myself and my four children to visit the Library. After all these years I can still remember how friendly and kind she was, especially when giving my children a quick peek at the new books, which they really enjoyed. I thank her for all the great memories.”
One of Bernhardt’s fondest memories is of a child care center she visited monthly to tell stories. “One day I got a strange feeling that the kids were getting closer and closer to me as the story went on. So the next time I went to turn a page, I didn’t turn my head and, sure enough, they were scooting up every time I turned a page. By the time I finished the story, they were sitting on my feet!”
Having left her imprint on more than one-third of the Library’s entire history, Bernhardt’s iconic status is being celebrated during a week in which libraries and librarians throughout the country are lauded for the important role they play in the lives of individuals. “If you are called to do something, you’ll put more into it than if you’re just paid for it,” said Jackie Nytes, IndyPL CEO. “I feel Sharon really believes in her work and that has kept her in the game and ready to serve! It is so very fitting that we celebrate her.”
Sharon Bernhardt feels that her calling at IndyPL isn’t done quite yet. “I have no immediate plans to retire. Maybe in a year or two.”
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IndyPL Names Head of Center for African-American Literature & Culture
Hayes began her IndyPL tenure in March 2015 as a system-wide training librarian and for the past year has acted as a business librarian at Central Library. She also has served as a member of the Library’s African-American History Committee.
Funded as part of a $3.1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., the Center for African-American Literature and Culture at Central Library will open in October 2017 as a place to study the works of local African-American writers and discover the rich heritage of Black authors from Indiana and beyond. It will feature an initial collection of 10,000 volumes as well as special programming, such as author visits, forums and exhibits, to showcase the African-American experience. The Center also will promote the activities of the African-American History Committee.
“My goal is to combine a robust collection with interactive programming that can be a beacon to people in the community and bring them together,” Hayes stated. “I’m very excited to have the opportunity to add to the Library’s existing offerings and to make this Center the best of its kind in the nation.”
As a focal point for encouraging and supporting continued literary and artistic accomplishment, the Center will celebrate fiction, essays, drama, poetry and other writings as living, dynamic and essential forms of expression that create community.
“Nichelle is a great librarian to grow this experience for our city,” said Library CEO Jackie Nytes. “We are grateful for the support of Lilly Endowment to create an environment where the community can easily find the rich body of Black literature and participate in a dynamic calendar of speakers and creativity.”
The Center for African-American Literature and Culture will be located in the 3,990-square-foot Robert B. Annis West Reading Room at Central Library. Its targeted opening will correspond with the 100th anniversary celebration of Central Library.