ELLINWOOD — Ellinwood School/Community Librarian Sharon Sturgis closes a book, but starts a new chapter in her life as she retires this month from the position she has held for two decades.
Innovative and creative, she has brought whirlwind of activity to the ever changing field of the community library, seeking to engage and educate old and young with displays, hosting authors and poets, and exhibits and embracing new technology.
“I wanted to encourage the community to be a part of the library,” said Sturgis. “You have to look for opportunities to engage the community. The library and world are changing.”
Her library will was chosen as one of six libraries in the state to host a Smithsonian Institution exhibit called “Hometown Teams” Jan. 31-March 15, 2015.
The library offers the Dolly Parton Imagination Station Library Books, free to infants and toddlers who receive their own book in the mail each month.
Sturgis also started the Awesome Club where every child can work on an AWE computer, which combines early literacy and fun on the computer. For each activity completed, the student received a card punch. A full card is rewarded with a prize.
The library offers the Alpha Bag, where kids can check out letter books in backpacks filled with games and things to do for each letter of the alphabet.
Other programs include Books for Babies, Tumblebooks, Story Hour and participation in the State Library’s 6 x 6 program. They have hosted quilt displays, art displays, and the current display, repurposing of old books.
Also, Kansas Poet Laureate Wyatt Townley visited the library in April, and author Cynthia Kadohata visited in February.
Sturgis also wrote a weekly column in the Great Bend Tribune, “Check It Out,” causing readers to make the drive over from Great Bend to check out some books.
Sturgis, who grew up in Ellinwood, has been active in plays beginning in high school. Starting with “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown,” she has been an active part of community drama. The community benefitted from her ability to sing and dance in “Nunsense I and II,” “Swing Time Canteen,” and high school shows, including “Once Upon A Mattress,” and “Kiss Me Kate.”
“She is so inventive and creative,” said Leon Sobba, retired educator who is active in area productions.
At her retirement reception, Sturgis said, “I’ve been so blessed to be a part of Ellinwood.” She thanked her staff and told them that she would miss them dearly.
A video production was shown of the plays that Sturgis had participated in. It was a surprise for Sharon. “I’ve never seen myself perform,” said Sturgis.
Larry Drees, Ellinwood Library Education Foundation, said “She is so very talented and intelligent. She has done so much for people in the community.”
This last month, the library has still bustled with activity. Sturgis has applied for grants and the Story Hour times are filled, causing her son Josh to tell her, “Mom you don’t get the idea of senioritis,” she said, laughing.
For Sturgis, the best part of her career has been the patrons and kids. “The library is such a positive, great place,” she said. “It was a joy. I liked everybody.”
As far as the new chapter in her life, Sturgis wants to have a flexible schedule and do fun, creative things as well as catching up on her sleep.
Plus, “I’ve seen some people, when they retired became servants to the community,” she said. “I want to use retirement time to help,” including volunteer work.