RPL adds substitute circulation clerk
Sara Davis is no stranger to the Russellville Public Library.
“I’ve always felt welcome here,” Davis said. “I just love being here.”
A longtime frequent patron, along with her three-year-old daughter, Adalynn Marie-Brooke McDill, she joined the team at the Russellville Public Library Nov. 21 last year in the role of substitute circulation clerk. She grew up in Russellville, where she still lives, and she graduated from Belgreen High School.
Davis currently works an average of one and a half to two days per week. Duties include greeting and helping patrons, as well as “reading and weeding” the shelves – the former to see if books are in the correct spots, and the latter to determine books to be removed from circulation and placed in the books for sale section.
“Reading the shelves is a pretty big job,” explained RPL director Joshlynn Bowen. “Everything goes in alphabetical order – the nonfiction is Dewey Decimal – and every day, we go through and ‘read’ maybe one section and make sure all the books are in the correct order. We’re going through a big effort on the weeding, and that will take a couple of months. It’s a huge project.”
Bowen said the books are alphabetized by author’s last name and, within that, also in alphabetical order by the title of the book. She said it can be a challenge to make sure everything is in the right spot, “especially in the children’s room because the books are always being shuffled around.”
PASSION AND KNOWLEDGE
Davis shared her enthusiasm for the work she does.
“When somebody comes in, I’ll greet them and ask what kind of reading material they like so I can assist them,” Davis said. “I love working on the events we have for kids and seeing how it brings them together.”
Bowen said Davis is “very good about gauging patron interest and making reading referrals,” noting “what really drew me to her as being right for our library is seeing how much she loves books and how well she knows how to catalog them, not to mention her passion for our programs.”
Bowen said she recalls a time at a program before Davis worked at the library when she said she’d be “happy to help” with a program if needed.
“I knew we needed a sub,” Bowen said. “I have two part-time employees, so what do you do if one or all of us is sick? It’s her love for kids and the community and books – that’s what showed me she was right for the job. That’s what I like to see as the director, someone who has a passion for Russellville Public Library. We’re all really close.”
Davis said her first day on the job involved a lot of activity and a lot of glitter as it was also the Turkey Tinsel Thanksgiving program.
“It was fun – a lot of glitter and sparkles, and the kids loved it. Glitter was everywhere, and they had a really good time,” she added.
Before working at RPL, Davis, then a stay-at-home mom, was already going to the library about once a week with her mother and daughter. When she became aware of the opportunity to work at the library, she said she “leapt at the chance.”
“I wanted my little girl to love the library and books, and she does,” Davis added. “I just love coming here because I love to read, and that’s where my passion comes from for working in the library. I get that from my mom and my grandpa because they’re bookworms, too.”
Davis said her daughter “likes all books,” adding she really likes “reading” to her, looking at the pictures and making up stories. “She’s a storyteller,” explained Davis. “We’ll probably be reading some books by her when she gets older.”
She said her daughter loves that she has a mother who works at the library, noting she often tells people about her mom working there, adding she loves seeing the building when they drive by.
“I’ve gotten a picture of her about every time the window art changes out front,” Davis said. “We love the library.”
Davis explained another family connection to books.
“My grandfather’s first cousin, the son of his mother’s sister – and I haven’t met either of them – is Larry McMurtry, author of the Lonesome Dove series.”
FINDING THE KEY
While Davis now describes the library as a “second home,” she said she discovered her love of reading a little later than some.
“It was probably a little bit after high school when I picked up reading,” Davis explained. “I couldn’t believe I didn’t do it sooner. I ask a lot of questions, and I love to learn.”
She shared the examples her family sets, noting her maternal grandfather, Ellis Ray Cauthon, reading every day, sometimes re-reading when out of new material, and her mother, Vicki Cauthon, who reads “all the time.”
Davis said her mother really works to instill a love for reading, telling her she could be at home while reading, yet be in “a whole other place” at the same time, describing reading as “a magic key to take you where you want to be.”
BOOKS ON HER SHELF
Davis noted her favorite book at the moment is “This Tender Land” by William Kent Krueger. A favorite from when she was little is “The Story of Creation,” written by Alice Joyce Davidson and illustrated by Victoria Marshall.
She said her preferred reading genre is psychological thrillers, but notes she likes to “read a little bit of everything,” especially books with a good storyline, adding her favorite author is Frida McFadden.
“I’ve read about all of her books,” Davis said, “and we’ve got several in the library. What’s so good about them is they keep you guessing. I’ll think I have it figured out until the last chapter or even the last page. I’m reading one right now, and I can’t put it down. It’s really good.”
To help in finding personal reading recommendations as well as possible titles to suggest for addition to the library, she takes part in reading groups on Facebook. She persists even when a book doesn’t measure up to expectations.
“If it’s a book I’ve seen in one of my reading groups and it has a lot of good reviews, I’ll start reading it. If I start it, I have to finish it because then my reward is I get to start a new book,” she added, noting she enjoys when a patron checks out or has read a book she has read so they can talk about it.
Davis explained she enjoys looking for new titles and other ideas to suggest in order to help the library grow and better serve its patrons. One thing she says she’s excited about is an something she ran across on Pinterest that they’re trying.
“We flipped the two bottom shelves of the large print section on their sides so the titles are turned up, and this way, patrons who aren’t physically able to get down there can more easily tell what those books are,” Davis said. “We’re waiting to see if we get good feedback about this, and then we’ll try it in some of the other parts of the library.”
FINDING HER PLACE
“It’s just so fun,” Davis said. “I love being able to interact with and help our patrons, and my top favorite of the job is probably my work family.” She explained she felt a closeness to the library staff even before she worked there, describing them as a “family away from home.”
She said one thing that has surprised her is how many people also check out audiobooks and DVDs, noting audiobook options include both physical media and digital options.
“It’s not just about books, it’s about locating information, finding entertainment and having a welcoming place to gather, work and grow as a community.”
Davis she loves having a way to be involved in a meaningful way.
“I feel like I’m a part of the community, and I love getting to bring my little girl to all the library events and to check out books. She meets other kids, and I think it’ll help her to already know some of them when she starts school.”
Davis said she feels like the library is the “heart of the community,” providing not only help in finding information, but also programs to inform and entertain, while being a safe and inviting space to help members of the community feel welcome.
“Sara’s engagement with people, along with her passion for reading and learning, that’s what really made me gravitate toward her,” Bowen explained.
“She loves the community, and she feels a bigger part of the community by being here. Her outreach plays a big part, and that’s an impactful thing to be able to accomplish with a job. It does me good to see her embracing her role so enthusiastically and to be able to see the difference she’s making.”
Davis said the position provides her both personal and professional rewards.
“The library has something for everyone. It’s my ‘happy place.’ This is my home away from home, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”