While she loves traveling, Allison George also likes staying close to home.
Her only family residence was on Felmer Court in South Frankfort. And her second home was always – and still is – the Paul Sawyier Public Library.
Allison, 29, became a summer volunteer at the old library on Wapping Street at age 11. Then at 16, while a student at Frankfort High School, she was hired part-time at the library as a page.
“It was my very first job,” she says, smiling.
“I shelved books in adult services.”
After going to Good Shepherd School for eight years and then FHS, Allison went to Berea College where she earned a bachelor’s in business administration.
While at Berea, Allison returned each summer to work at her hometown library.
Now in her fifth year as a full-time employee, Allison is assistant youth services coordinator on the upper floor of the spacious new library that opened in November 2006 next door to the old one.
“As a child, I would come to story time at the library,” she says. “So it’s pretty interesting now to present those (reading programs), knowing I used to be one of the little people.”
Since the new library opened, “it’s been much busier,” Allison says. “We’ve had more traffic in the new building. We’ve had to offer more programs just to be able to accommodate the number of children who come here.
“The new building has made it easier in a sense in that we have a lot more room.”
After being cramped for space in the old facility, it seemed strange at first having shelves without books in the new building.
“You have to begin with some empty shelves to allow room to grow,” she says.
“It’s a pleasure to come to work here. I like all the colors in the building. It’s a colorful atmosphere.”
Her job planning youth activities is a “creative outlet, much more so than sending tax bills to people,” she says.
After college she worked three years at the state Department of Revenue. Sending tax bills, “I learned a lot about how to deal with angry people on the phone.
“People don’t get angry here in youth services. It’s a friendly environment.”
One of the things she enjoys most in her library job is “helping people find something that’s free.”
Allison used to work part time at Home Depot before it closed last year.
“Unlike helping people at a retail store, where they have to pay for it, here it’s just great being able to get them something they’re interested in and it doesn’t cost them anything.
“It’s a nice service to offer. Making people smile is always a plus.”
The children make her smile most of the time. But she admits the job has its trying moments.
“Patience is a very important quality you have to have here because we’re working with one year olds to teenagers. But I like working with kids. I like adults, too. But kids are just more genuine.”
Through books and other library materials, Allison feels she has an opportunity to make a difference in kids’ lives.
She enjoys “getting children excited about a story, and finding the right book to put in their hands.”
Allison majored in business administration because she always enjoyed sales and marketing.
“When I was a Girl Scout, I always had a drive to sell,” she says.
She always finished on top or came in second in the local Girl Scout cookie sales.
“I guess the world was a different place then. I was allowed to go door-to-door selling. And I didn’t mind rejection. I would just use it as a learning experience and go on and knock on the next door.”
Now she likes helping with fundraisers. She coordinates a teen summer reading auction.
“That’s another fun part of the job, getting out in the community and soliciting all local businesses, trying to get auction prizes donated,” she says.
“Teens earn $1 toward the auction for every hour they read. The more they read the more money they have. It’s the honor system. We’re very trustworthy here.”
Someday, Allison would like to try designing children’s books.
“A lot of people will judge a book by its cover, and I do like looking at book covers.”
Books “jump out” at readers through the covers, she says.
Allison says she has always been a slow reader.
“I’m a very detail-oriented person. If I don’t go slow I’m afraid I’ll miss part of the story. A lot of times I end up rereading some sections.”
Although she will turn 30 in October, with her youthful looks she will probably be carded at 40. Working full time with kids is part of the secret.
“Even though I’m an adult, I like reading young adult literature.”
She says she read the first Harry Potter book, “and I’ve listened to the other six because I do enjoy audio books and the narrator is excellent on those.”
She’s currently reading Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan, an award winning fantasy book.
“I’ve always told myself I like fiction better, but every time I pick up a nonfiction, I find I do enjoy it. I always have a couple of books at home I’m working on.”
Another part of the job she enjoys is “helping with collection development and reading book reviews, trying to stay up-to-date on what current reads are.”
Erinn Conness, youth services coordinator and Allison’s supervisor, says her assistant is fun to have around.
“Allison is very dedicated and a wonderful advocate for teens in Franklin County. She’s always enthusiastic about new things, and always willing to try something else and take on more responsibility.”
Allison has an apartment on St. Clair Street – a little closer to work.
But she frequently returns to Felmer Court to visit her father, Ronald George, a retired federal highway administration employee, and younger brother, Tony, who does building restoration work.
She has an older sister, Natalie, who lives in Bloomington, Ind.
Away from work, she likes “traveling, hiking and kayaking and being out in nature. Last year I learned how to snow ski in Virginia.”
At work, she’s “content,” and hopes to have a long career at her hometown library.
The kids help keep her young and happy.
Every time Allison goes to a local restaurant, she sees one of her library children.
“A second-grader from Second Street School saw me (recently) and her mouth just dropped open and she reached her arms out to give me a hug. That’s a nice feeling.”
And a nice fringe benefit.
“Frankfort Faces” is a series that highlights people from within the Frankfort and Franklin County community. Each feature follows one of the city’s most unique personalities and includes a story, photos and video, which can be found by clicking the TV icon attached to the story online at state-journal.com.