They’re kind, creative, and giving of their time and energy. Lucky for us, they’re also our amazing volunteers. Today, we’re sharing the third in a series of profiles shining the spotlight on them. If you missed the first two, go check out Ricki and Johnny.

Karen came to volunteer at EPL after 17 years of working at the Emmaus High School library. Little did we know that not only was she a library pro, but a talented artist as well!

How long have you been volunteering at the library? What do you do?
I have been volunteering at the library since the summer of 2015. I work at the circulation desk — I love the interaction with the patrons. I am happy to do anything the staff needs, from shelving, to shelf reading, and the occasional minor repair of books.

What inspired you to volunteer with us? Have libraries played any special role in your life?
When I retired, I wanted to give back to the community. I knew the need for volunteers at the library was ongoing. It was a natural fit for me since I had worked at the Emmaus High School library and love reading. I was fortunate to work under three librarians who were very generous in sharing their knowledge of library procedures.

Tell us a little about your background.
I grew up and attended school in the Allentown School District. I received a BFA (bachelor of Fine Arts) with a major in painting from Kutztown State College — yes, it wasn’t a University back then! I exhibited my work in a gallery and sold paintings professionally as well as participated in local art shows. I was also a guest illustrator for a magazine called Valley Monthly.

I took time off to raise my three wonderful children, and that led me to volunteer at their schools with the reading programs. Eventually, I ended up as a staff assistant at the Emmaus High School library. I worked there from 1998 to 2015. When I retired, I completed the LCIU (Lehigh County Intermediate Unit) program for guest teachers and I substitute in both East Penn and Salisbury Township school districts. Of course I love the art rooms best!

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
I knew at an early age I was drawn to art. My parents were very supportive, as was an influential art teacher in high school. I never stopped creating artwork and am humbled when people choose to purchase my work, whatever medium it may be. I think many artists feel that way, even when choosing a career that takes them in another direction. That urge to create is ever present.

What are your hobbies or interests?
I love to paint and craft, and I enjoy plein air painting (painting outdoors) with my neighbor who is a very talented artist. I knit (left-handed — I sat opposite a right handed knitter to learn!), crochet, do counted cross stitch, bake and travel! My husband and I have a must-see list, and we’ve been fortunate enough to travel to some amazing destinations since our retirement.

What are some of the best places you and your husband have visited? What are some places still on your list?
I loved the Danube and the Rhine. I would like to travel to France to see Giverny, where Monet lived and painted. And I want to see the Northern Lights!

Do you have a favorite book, author or genre?
I love to read all genres, and my daughter will tell you that my favorite book is the one I read last! I have an ongoing list of books that I want to read, and when a patron of the library tells me they enjoyed a book, I add it to my reading list. So many books, so little time!

Lightning round! Favorite TV show:
Downton Abbey! I binge watched the whole first season when I found it.

Last book you read:
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Favorite junk food:
Gummy anything!

The one item in your art box you can’t live without:
My number 2 pencil to sketch out composition.

Parting words of advice for budding artists:
Paint with your heart so that your work will touch someone!
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.]