Know Your Neighbor: Sharon Nicholson

By Kathy Còrdova

from The Taos News

Happy belated birthday, Questa Public Library. In addition to a message on the library’s electric sign board and refreshments at the facility on Tuesday, Jan. 19 (the date of the library’s opening eight years ago), Library Director Sharon Nicholson celebrated the occasion by sharing information about the library during a recent interview.

“I’m sharing the library’s unique story so that people will know our offerings and activities. We may be young, but we’ve grown a great deal and have a special richness within our wonderful community,” said Sharon Nicholson.

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Sharon Nicholson, director of Questa Public Library, photographed Monday (Feb. 8). Katharine Egli

Q: Please discuss the Questa Public Library from the early years to present.

A: When the library started, the materials were mostly donated. Today, the program exists through the receipt of Go Bond funds, grants and resources from the village of Questa. The Friends of the Library is our fundraising arm. We also enjoy the work of an active advisory board. The library has a number of faithful volunteers. There are six regular volunteers and another 10 always available as needed. The library can’t function without all of this valuable help.

I wish I could have been there since the beginning. However, since I’ve been here, I’ve seen it grow a great deal. By growth, I mean several things. As of Jan. 1, a total of 50,775 persons entered the library in the past 10 years. People who have visited here reside in Questa, Colorado and many other places. We serve the Questa and Rio Costilla areas and have continued to offer materials and services. The library offers books, audio, prints and movies. Wi-Fi is available 24 hours a day inside and outside the building.

We have developed some wonderful programming throughout the years. Our Book Club meets once a month. Twice a year, we receive some special guests from Alta Vista Elementary, Headstart and Rio Costilla Schools. Buses bring the children to the library, where we read, discuss the library and send the youngsters back home with a free, high-quality book of their own. Computer classes are available as necessary. We have housed workshops regarding the legal process, other informative programming and, of course, the Summer Reading Program for the youth.

A really special program is called “Read to Your Bunny” and focuses on children aged birth to 3 years. The program is designed to encourage parents to read to their children. The little ones receive a special book bag with four board books for themselves. This program is very informal. Instead of meeting at specified times, the timing is tailored to parents’ needs. Instead, we call the parents in the program to keep in touch and include them in the loop. We’re always available to help the parents expose and excite the children to the world of reading and books.

Q: Could you please explain your role(s) at the Questa library?

A: When I first became involved, I lived in Sunshine Valley and worked in Taos. I was driving around Questa and saw a sign that announced the Questa Public Library. I quickly made a “U” turn and visited the library to find out about this place. Carolyn Anderson, the library director at the time, signed me up as a volunteer. I served in this position for quite a while. Then I served as assistant librarian for two years. Three and a half years go, Carolyn retired and I became the library director.

Q: Please share information about your career background.

A: I had no formal training as a librarian. My knowledge occurred on the job, although I’ve been a patron most of my life. At age 8, I oftentimes boarded a city bus to the public library. I loved exploring the three-story structure in downtown Wichita, Kansas, checking out books and taking them home until my next visit. My love of libraries continued the rest of my life.

I earned a bachelor’s degree, attending three institutions of higher learning — the University of Phoenix, University of Wichita and Citrus Community College (in Glendora, California).

My business background is largely in the hospitality industry. I served as innkeeper at Casa Encantada Bed and Breakfast, assisting the out-of-town owners. Then, I worked on three or four projects for Dreamcatcher Realty. I served as the liaison between contractors and Dreamcatcher and later with Dreamcatcher for a few closings.

In addition to the library, I also manage a condominium association in Taos, including Pueblo de los Sue-os. I also work with private homes.

Q: What made you decide to move to the Taos area?

A: I’m originally a Kansas Sunflower girl, and [I] also lived in Glendora and Azusa, California. Since 1991, our family vacationed in this area, mostly in Red River, where I discovered the mountains.We moved to Albuquerque, and after our divorce, I wanted to live here. I also looked for a job and began working for Craig Schumacher when he owned the San Geronimo Lodge. From then on, I remained in the area.

Q: You mentioned family. Please tell the readers about your relatives.

A: I have two sons and a daughter. Jonathan Leeper (Miriam) lives in Middletown, Rhode Island. Joe Leeper (Donna) resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. Linda Nicholson lives with me in Sunshine Valley.

Q: How do you spend your spare time?

A: I read. My tastes are very diverse; I have no favorite author or genre. I enjoy some of the best literature. Gardening is something I enjoy. I plant anything I can get my hands on — vegetables and flowers. I like things that pop up magically. Gardening is a challenge up here. I love to knit, usually socks and hats for premature babies. At the library as well as on my own time, we work on the project Dropped Stitch. Participants send the baby hats to Taos, where Barbara Rose’s knitting group distributes them to area hospitals.

Q: Please list some of your favorite items.

A: Occasionally, I like to patronize restaurants. My favorites are Orlando’s in El Prado and Taos Ale House. I love to walk in my yard in the summer. It delights me every time because it’s a green oasis in the sagebrush. I love dark chocolate in any form and going to Taos one day a week. Most especially, I love keeping in touch with former clients.

Q: Do you have any parting words?

A: Yes. We in the Questa and Rio Costilla communities are very proud of the Questa Public Library. Visitors will understand what I mean if they drop in to see what we have to offer. The library is open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

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