Beloved Ellinwood librarian retires after 20 years

The following article was originally published in the June 6 edition of the Ellinwood Leader. 

Just as avid readers become attached to their favorite characters, many children and community members alike have become attached to Ellinwood librarian Sharon Sturgis.

Sturgis will retire after 20 years of service to the Ellinwood School-Community Library and school system at the end of June. However, Sturgis formed connections with many children and adults during her years in the school system and those memories will not fade from memory any time soon.

Many students have gone through the summer reading program, more commonly known as story hour, with Sturgis. While former story hour assistant Michelle Miller never went through the program as a child, she witnessed Sturgis’ passion for the kids and reading during her time helping with the program.

“Sharon is so passionate about kids and having fun,” Miller said. “I can’t recall a single day that she didn’t come to library hour ready to play with the kids. Story hour was so much more than a job to her. Her enthusiasm was contagious and all of the kids loved being around her.”

Miller worked with the story hour program for six years and said she enjoyed working with Sturgis. She described Sturgis as passionate, entertaining and valuable.

“Sharon’s enthusiasm about reading, singing, dancing, and learning was contagious to everyone who worked with her,” Miller said. “Every time I walked into the library, I instantly felt better. I knew that it was going to be a great day full of fun, learning and laughter. The kids were always drawn to Sharon because she knew how to keep them engaged and active. She is an extremely talented woman.”

During story hour, Sturgis is known for engaging a variety of antics to keep the kids entertained. Miller said she thinks this is the reason kids form connections with her so easily.

“She is not afraid to act like a kid, because that is who she is,” Miller said. “Kids connect with her because she loves each and every one of them and she is honest with them.”

Miller is not the only one to recognize the dedication Sturgis has shown to the library and school system. Ellinwood School-Community Library board president-elect Rita Feist has known Sturgis for more than 10 years.

Feist has done her fair share of traveling to libraries around the region while serving on the executive committee for the Central Kansas Library System and says Ellinwood is losing an outstanding librarian.

“Sharon is extremely efficient, energetic, creative and enjoyable to be around,” Feist said. “She made the library a place where people want to go and really enhanced the library.”

Sturgis has been involved with more than just the library during her years in the Ellinwood school district. Fellow librarian Julie Blakeslee, who has worked with Sturgis for 14 years, said she is still amazed by Sturgis’ talents and creativity.

“The public has seen her musical talents with the summer theater productions,” Blakeslee said. “The students and Summer Reading participants have seen her creative talents with the decorations, bulletin boards and activities that have been a part of her 20 years as the Ellinwood School/Community Librarian.”

While Michele Martin has only worked with Sturgis at the library for two years, she said she will miss seeing her at work every day.

“Sharon is an amazing person,” Martin said. “She is a book that has many subjects: librarian, educator, decorator, musician, comedian, actor, mentor and friend. Sharon has such a big heart.”

As Sturgis prepares to retire from the library, former story hour assistant Michelle Miller has a message for her role model.

“Your enthusiasm and passion helped me to understand why I love kids and learning so much. Thanks for all your support over the years.”