Series Premier: 60 Checkouts

The following is the next installment of a series in which I interview staff members of Topsham Public Library

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“The Fifth Annual Poetry Festival Saturday, April 30”

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“Lawyers in Libraries, May 6”

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“Sharon Ross, Development Coordinator of Topsham Public Library

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TPL Board 2013-14-14


“I’m Susan Preece.”





“I’m Emma Gibbon.”





“I’m Julie McDuff.”




“And I’m Jennifer Balser. Those stories and more tonight on 60 Checkouts.”


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On Saturday, April 30 at 1pm Topsham Public Library is hosting their fifth Poetry Festival. Guests this year include a former Poet Laureate of Portland, Marcia Brown, a Joy of the Pen Winner, Robert Breen, and  Joy of the Pen honorable mention, Helene McGlauflin. For the past five years now, Topsham Public Library has attempted to make poetry more mainstream and one must wonder what sinister powers are behind such endeavors. Isn’t poetry best kept in the confines of the high school classroom? Should such art be thrust upon the general public? The editorial staff at 60 Checkouts challenges you to attend the Poetry Festival and decide for yourself what role poetry should have in our community.

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Topsham Public Library has been striving to be a community center that is relevant to the patrons it serves. As such, they are participating in the Lawyers in Libraries program. On May 6, 12noon-2pm, a lawyer will be present at Topsham Public Library to meet and speak with members of the public about issues of access to courts and justice in the 21st Century. The lawyer will also provide general guidance and information on referral to legal resources to individual attendees. Rebecca Brochu of Shankman & Associates, Topsham will be available for 10-15 minute private consultations.

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You may not even know she’s there; everything she does is performed with the stealth of a lion hunting a poor unsuspecting zebra. She sits quiet in her corner of the office, working diligently on some project to advance the goals of Topsham Public Library, but don’t be fooled, there is much more to Sharon Ross than meets the eye.

Sharon is originally from California, which automatically makes her suspect. When asked which she prefers, she was very coy in her answer. She likes California for its winters, and she notes that California’s economy is better, but Maine has its benefits as well. Though winter is nicer in California, she prefers Maine’s weather spring through fall, and she thoroughly enjoys the culture in southern Maine.

Presently, Sharon Ross is Development Coordinator for Topsham Public Library and teaches Literature and English Composition and Interpersonal Communications at Southern Maine Community College and Central Maine Community College, but she started in newspapers. At one time, Sharon sold ads, designed ads and over time became the Associate Editor of The Mountain News, a weekly paper. She was picked up by the daily San Bernardino Sun as a page designer and eventual Community Editor. (Suddenly I am nervous about my grammar, or lack of, and poor use of commas – commas are my downfall.)

These positions all have something in common: the ability to analyze. This ability is a definite asset in the work world, but what does that ability look like in the personal world? Well, imagine Sharon coming home with a new dvd she checked out from Topsham Public Library. She greets her family, “Look what I have! Do you want to watch a movie tonight?” Her family shoots furtive looks at each other, and suddenly they are checking the calendars on their phones. You see, when one watches a movie with Sharon, one needs to be prepared to analyze the minutest details of the movie; with Sharon, you don’t ever just watch a movie.

Not only a lover of books, personally, but also as a teacher of literature, I was eager to get to talking books. Sharon’s first favorite book is James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. I mentioned that Mrs. Weeks, the librarian when I attended Williams-Cone Elementary ages ago, read that very book to us, and she, too, had a teacher read that book to her. Her favorite short story (short story is her favorite genre) to teach is The Beast, Watered  from the collection Under the Light by Sam Michel.

Sharon is the first person I have ever met who said there was a time she liked a movie better than the book! The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was a better movie than book. Sharon found the book was not funny and lacked a narrative arc. She prefers Jane Austen over the Bronte sisters, and she does prefer fiction over non-fiction.

Sharon’s favorite TV series is Doc Martin, a lot to analyze there, and Velvet Galerias. Not having heard of Velvet Galerias, she explained she watches it on Netflix and it’s from Spain (yes, subtitles) set in the 1950s in the fashion industry. Sharon’s mother was a seamstress and Sharon thinks that’s part of the draw to this series.

Sharon would rather go out than stay in, would rather ski than snowboard, and would do laundry over washing dishes. And who would Sharon have to dinner if she could invite any eight people? She would invite friends from the various stages of her life: early childhood, old high school friends, California friends, and Maine friends. Sharon prefers Streisand over Adele, the Beatles over One Direction, and Chrissie Hynde over Springsteen or Mellencamp.

Whatever tunes she might be humming, rest assured, the lyrics have been analyzed.

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