They’re curious, accomplished, versatile and fun. Lucky for us, they’re also our amazing volunteers. Today, we’re sharing the fifth in a series of profiles shining the spotlight on them. Go here if you missed Ricki, Johnny, Karen or Linda H.

Chris caught the bug for genealogy as a child listening to her grandmother tell family stories. She started researching her roots in her 20s, and after 35 years as an English teacher — a gold star if you can guess how many students she taught — she now spends most of her time researching family trees. Thankfully, she also makes time to volunteer at EPL, where she processes new books and helps patrons with their own genealogy projects.

How long have you been volunteering at the library?
Seven years as of this past December.

What do you do as a volunteer?
I do physical processing of books. Mostly I work on new books. I do things like make spine labels, apply security strips, stamp and cover books. I never knew that so much work went into readying new books for the shelves.

I also do an individualized genealogical help program every third Monday evening of the month. I’ve shown people how to set up a family tree and how to use the Ancestry website. I’ve also helped people uncover ancestors they didn’t know they had. I’m not always successful in finding answers to their questions, but I try my best.

Have you had any interesting discoveries in your own family tree?
Yes, actually. I’m Pennsylvania Dutch through and through, and my family has lived in the Lehigh Valley for more than 200 years; my husband, on the other hand, is from the Harrisburg area. His mother was pure Slovak and came from Scranton, and his father’s family was Scots-Irish with some English Quaker and a bit of Pennsylvania German thrown in. They hailed from the Altoona area and Huntingdon County in Western Pennsylvania.

I never expected a connection between our two families, but I found one. We each had a 6x-great-grandfather who signed the petition for the establishment of Whitehall Township in 1752. Our grandfathers also belonged to the same church, so they must have know each other. Small world indeed!

The lesson I’ve learned from genealogy is that we’re all connected in ways we can’t imagine.

What inspired you to volunteer with us? Have libraries played any special role in your life?
I’ve always loved books and libraries, and when I retired it was just natural for me to volunteer here. During high school, I did some volunteer work in both my high school library and at the Whitehall Public Library. In fact, I’m very proud that my dad was vice-president of the first library board in Whitehall when they built the library back in the mid-1960s. You can see his name on the plaque near the library’s front door.

Tell us a little bit about your background.
I’ve been married to Mark for 38 years. We have two wonderful children: Phil, an architect, and Vanessa, a motion graphics artist. We also have the best daughter-in-law in the world, Rachel, a music teacher. Career-wise, I taught 7th grade English in Whitehall-Coplay Middle School. Over my 35 years in the classroom, I taught more than 5,000 students. Although not all of my students loved English, I like to think I left my mark on at least some of those kids. I’m proud that I now count several of my former students among my friends.

What are your hobbies or interests outside of work and/or volunteering?
I’m crazy for genealogy, history and photography. I love to read (of course!), cook, throw holiday parties, and travel. Since we’ve been retired, my husband Mark and I have cruised the Rhine from Amsterdam to Budapest, toured France and Italy, and traveled to Iceland for a wedding. We’ve also taken a road trip to Texas, annual trips to Florida to escape the winter, and other small trips in the states. We’re planning a cruise to the Caribbean and a trip to Colorado for this year.

Do you have a favorite book or author?
I can’t confine myself to only one book or author. Let’s see…classic literature – A Christmas Carol and Charles Dickens. Modern literature – The Mists of Avalon and Bernard Cornwell.

Lightning round! Favorite TV show:
Game of Thrones

Last book you read:
War of the Wolf by Bernard Cornwell

Favorite junk food:
Chocolate — the darker the better!

Favorite place you’ve been to:
Germany, the land of my ancestors. In fact, I got to visit Wertheim am Main, the ancestral home of my mother’s family.

Place you most want to travel to:
The Caribbean — can’t wait for our cruise!

And your superpower?
My students used to say I had eyes in the back of my head. Actually, I think my superpower is being the mom of Phil and Vanessa.

[note: to book a 30-minute genealogy appointment with Chris, email or call 610-965-9284, x210. Her upcoming dates are: Feb. 18, Mar. 18, and April 15, all from 5-7 p.m. Also mark your calendar for Chris’s upcoming genealogy program — Getting the Most Out of — on Sat., April 27, at 2 p.m. and be on the lookout for more details soon.]

Do you have a special interest or talent that you’d like to share with others? Would you like to lend your energy to the library in other ways? Stop in and ask for a Volunteer Interest form at the desk!

[Disclaimer: the views, information or opinions expressed in ‘Meet Our Volunteers’ interviews are solely those of the volunteers and do not necessarily represent those of the library or its employees.][/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]