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March 13, 2014

Librarian looks back on 30-year career

When Linda Burkhart began volunteering at the Franklin Free Library more than 30 years ago, things were a little different. 

For the first two decades of Burkhart’s career as library director, a cabinet containing the library card catalog stood near the entrance door. 

“Now that everything is automated, the cabinet is gone and we use the back of the library cards as scratch paper,” said Burkhart.

Burkhart started her career as director in 1984 and oversaw the library’s transformation into a modern facility. Just over 10 years ago, Burkhart and the library’s board of directors brought the library into compliance with the state’s standards for a public library. 

“Patrons can find a copy machine, a fax machine, and computers at the library,” said Burkhart.

The computer equipment also allowed Franklin Library to partner with the Four County Library System. Bar codes were placed on each book for automated check-out and return. Books move from library to library. “The automation was funded in part by the O’Connor Foundation,” said Burkhart.

At times, Burkhart and her staff have had to be creative to accommodate modern changes within an older building. The walls of the 1929 building are crowded with windows, leaving little room for floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. 

“The natural light is wonderful but requires strategy as to where to position shelves within the library to hold its 10,000 volumes,” Burkhart said.

The volume of other materials has increased over the decades.

“When I first started working here, the library subscribed to the traditional magazines — Ladies Home Journal, Time, and Better Homes and Gardens,” said Burkhart. “Now, we have 48 subscriptions with titles, Wired, Hot Car, Traveler, O, and Consumer Report, which is really popular.”

As director, Burkhart honed a fruitful ability to secure grants for equipment and activities such as children’s programs and history afternoons, totaling about a quarter of a million dollars during her tenure.

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