After working as a children’s librarian for more than 40 years, Sandy Sheehy has seen a lot of fads come and go. But two of them still prompt her to shake her head in dismay.
“The Teletubbies and Barney — they still scare me,” admits Mrs. Sheehy, who retired on Jan. 30 from the Rossford Public Library. “They were just strange.”
Mrs. Sheehy, 65, doesn’t have to worry about having to preview children’s books featuring unusual characters anymore. She retired after working for 30 years in Rossford. Before that, she worked as a children’s librarian for Toledo-Lucas County Public Library.
“I always wanted to work with children,” Mrs. Sheehy said. “I love kids and books.”
Library Director Jeannine Wilbarger said that love was evident every day when Mrs. Sheehy showed up to work.
“She’s an incredibly gentle and warm person,” Ms. Wilbarger said. “Her ability to entertain and educate, her knowledge of educational literature — her depth of knowledge — is a big loss for us.”
There was never any doubt that she would become a librarian, Mrs. Sheehy said. After earning her master’s degree at Western Michigan University, she began working at the Oregon Branch Library.
“I grew up in Ida,” Mrs. Sheehy said. “I was always walking to the library with my sister. My parents and grandparents were also big readers, so it’s in my blood.”
As the Rossford’s children’s librarian, Mrs. Sheehy’s duties included planning and operating youth reading programs and purchasing children’s books, CDs, and DVDs.
It was easier when her now-grown children were younger. She kept an eye on what was popular with her children and their friends. To keep up with the latest trends, and make sure the books the library purchased were appropriate, she would always read them first.
The books most in demand often depends on what children are watching at the movies or on TV — Sesame Street, Curious George, Encyclopedia Brown, Clifford, Harry Potter, and Twilight are a just few that come to mind.
“Believe it or not, Power Rangers are back,” Mrs. Sheehy said. “The problem is kids come in expecting books about every TV show.”
But that’s OK with Mrs. Sheehy. She’s a believer in doing whatever it takes to pique a child’s interest in reading. TV, movies, picture books, audio books — even reading tablets — are all important tools that can fuel a child’s interest in reading, she said.
“The trick is to find out what they are interested in,” she said. “Some kids don’t want to read books, they want to read magazines.”
Her own tastes range from mystery novels, history and, yes, children’s books, in which she plans to indulge more now that she’s retired.
She and husband Mike Sheehy, who’s also retired, plan to travel more and visit their children and grandchildren, who live out of state. Mr. Sheehy is an Oregon City Council member.
There are many things she won’t miss — early morning library staff meetings, or having to deal with the occasional rude library visitor.
But, there’s even more things she will miss. “The people I work with,” Mrs. Sheehy said. “And the kids that come in.”
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