Sarah McElhone

Years worked with the County: 5

Briefly Describe your job.
I am one of three full time staff who oversee the circulation department. 
We manage 100,000+ resources, provide the first line of customer service
and information to our patrons, develop programs and provide tech related
assistance. I also manage our homework helpers, volunteers, tech lending
program, and serve as the notary.

What is a typical work day?
Every work day at the library is unique and that’s what makes it so fulfilling. 
You never know what questions or community needs will arise. I could be assisting with wireless printing, addressing questions about voting or Medicaid, lending recreation equipment, providing warm coats and food bags, offering recommendations for favorite books or authors, and organizingearly literacy programs that feature mini horses, Hmong dancers, bees, buses, and even garbage trucks, all in one day.

What is your favorite aspect of your job?
My favorite aspect of my job is rooted in my belief in the public library’s mission and its role as an equalizer in society. We welcome everyone in our community with equal enthusiasm and I love that there is no monetary barrier. I feel proud to share our diverse opportunities with patrons, whether it’s the option to borrow Chromebooks and hotspots or the free Zumba class every Monday. Witnessing their surprise and appreciation when they say, “I didn’t know the library offered that,” is truly rewarding.

What is the county core value you believe most relates to the work you do?
“Doing it Together” for sure. I feel incredibly fortunate to be part of such an intelligent, hard working, fun and innovative team at the library. I am also always amazed with the willingness of outside individuals, agencies, and businesses to collaborate with the library. Whenever I’ve approached a local business or organization about partnering for a program, the response has consistently been an enthusiastic yes.

What do you like best about working for the county?
What I appreciate most about working for Catawba County is the genuine commitment to community services. A decade ago, my husband and I moved here specifically for the valuable resources the county provides. At that time, I had three small children and was also caring for my mother, who was experiencing the rapid progression of dementia. Services such as Meals on Wheels, Council for Aging, Senior Nutrition, and Adult Life were genuine lifesavers. I value the authentic engagement that our county consistently demonstrates in supporting its residents.

Where did you grow up?
Baltimore, MD. I moved to North Carolina for a college internship at UNC Hospital.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Traveling with my family (we especially like visiting National Parks), cheering on my kids in their sports pursuits, and not surprisingly, reading!

Favorite movie, tv or book?
Currently, I am enjoying watching the Lessons in Chemistry series with my daughter. I loved the Book!

Favorite musical artist or genre?
I have always liked the Avett Brothers. We spent many New Years Eve at their shows.

Favorite Sports Team?
Of course, any team my kids are on and my alma mater Penn State Nittany Lions!

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
Freeze time. With 3 teens, I feel it passing a little too quickly.

You’re best known for the Tales in the Garden program. What’s your favorite part about this program?
I love that it fosters unity amongst our diverse community. A huge part of the program is learning about one another, our languages, our cultures, our community partners, and creating shared experiences. I also love that it takes place outside where we can explore and engage in the natural environment.

Note from the director, Siobhan Loendorf: 
“Sarah is a creative force with a heart for people who weaves magic in our library space. From the enchanting Tiny Desk Concerts to the outdoor Tales in the Garden programs she orchestrates experiences that resonate with the community’s soul. Sarah’s unwavering dedication to helping others radiates in every action. With boundless patience and kindness, she transforms each interaction into a positive experience, showcasing her calm and compassionate approach that leaves a lasting impact on our patrons.”