Librarian happy to make helping students the story of her life
North Versailles Township - Based on her track record, Eleanor Teresa Lowden is the heart of the North Versailles Public Library.
But more important than any recognition certificate the assistant director and cataloger ever received, was working with children, especially the programs involving the works of Dr. Seuss.
"I received a card that everyone drew in and signed," Lowden said. "Each child made a hand-printed thank you note with my name on the envelope. I still have them."
Before working at the municipal library, she volunteered at the one in Green Valley School in the township.
Lowden headed the Parent/Child Reading Program for children in kindergarten through fourth grade for two years, recruiting parents willing to read to each grade for half an hour weekly.
She joined the township library in 1988 as director and, in that year, helped children learn to love books by starting a summer-reading program.
"At first, I had only about five to 10 kids involved in this program that begins in June and finishes about the middle of August," Lowden said.
"Now about 100 children attend and enjoy selecting books to read and story time moments. They have a chance to win prizes with tickets they earn from completing books, and a party is held for anyone who completes 10 books, which is a great incentive to read while having fun. "
Lowden said her favorite students to work with are in kindergarten through eighth grade.
She also enjoys helping them find all the books they need for school projects. "When they come back and say they received an A from the teacher, I think that's just great," she said.
The Lowden File
Name: Eleanor Teresa Lowden
Residence: North Versailles Township
Education: Graduated from the former Scott High School, North Braddock. Studied electronics at Forbes Trail Vocational School, Monroeville. Took five home-study classes in library science from Northampton County Area Community College, Bethlehem.
Occupation: Assistant director and cataloger at North Versailles Public Library and library director from 1988 to 2000
Family: Husband, Richard; sons, Daniel and Steven .
Hobbies: Car cruises in her 1994 Miata two-seater sports car, reading science fiction, computer games, dancing, hiking, theater and traveling to Blackwater Falls in West Virginia and the Skyline Drive in Virginia.
Commission President Edward McGuire was equally complimentary of her, saying she "is a very good librarian and does her job well. You can always count on her. She is always here, and she knows her job."
He said Lowden "was instrumental in introducing computers, tapes and videos to the North Versailles community. She has served her library patrons well."
Lowden has bolstered her service by enlisting family and friends to become part of her work.
A friend, Tom Moser, served as president of Friends of the Library, as did her husband, Rich, and son, Don. Her sister, Joanna, was secretary, and her daughter-in-law, Lisa, was secretary and treasurer.
Lowden is particularly proud of the library's move from the former Eastland Mall to its current site near the municipal building.
"The new library was built to hold 12,000 books but now houses 21,000 publications," she said."
Lowden also attracted guest speakers, such as author Thomas Bell and artist Andrea Terleskay. Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Oakland, and the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Arden, Washington County, have sent speakers and displays to interest adults.
Library patron Janet Fabyankovic agreed with McGuire that Lowden is an asset to the township.
"Her dedication to her community shows through by the many long hours she puts into the work of running this busy little production," she said.
Also, Lowden "is always a delight to deal with because of her sunny disposition," Fabyankovic said. "Many children have been guided along their reading paths by her. … Many teens and adults have found information and jobs because of her efforts to update our township with computers and resume writing programs.
"She has affected the lives of many residents, but most important, she has touched our hearts."