Susan Manalli has worked as the cataloger and Head of Technical Services at the Anderson County Library System since 2008. She is an avid reader, a writer, and a talented watercolor artist.
How did you begin working in libraries?
I was working as a Spanish teacher and one of my best friends was a library aide at the high school’s library. She was getting her degree in Library Science and would share the things she was learning. She told me, “You should look into this. I think it would fit your personality.” This was when I was living in Wisconsin, and my husband Rex encouraged me too, thinking it would give me more opportunities in the future. So I enrolled in the program at the University of Wisconsin, and was able to do the program over the course of 3 summers. Near the end of my program, my husband was getting ill. I wanted to take some time off to take care of him, but he told me, “Get that degree.” So I did. After finishing, I had a chance to continue and get my Ph.D during an exciting time at the University of Wisconsin – they were in the midst of digitizing all of their university libraries – but then my husband passed away, and I needed to go back to teaching.
How did you get from Wisconsin to South Carolina?
Well, I met my 2nd husband Gil, who was in sales for educational videos, like Britannica. We were overseas for three years, traveling all through Western Europe. We met so many people who spoke so many languages. Gil’s health, though, brought us back to the states and we ended up in Virginia. That’s where I got my first library job as a high school librarian. I loved Virginia and didn’t want to leave, but my husband got a significant promotion that took us to Florida. I enjoyed working at a variety of high schools there, building the library’s collections and working with teachers and curriculum. I even ran the student-led television studio! But when we started thinking about retirement, I wanted to get back to the mountains and away from the hurricanes. We visited the Upstate and I finally said, “This is where I want to be.” Gil’s health was getting worse, and I was working part-time as a receptionist for a law firm. One day one of the partners asked me why I was working as a receptionist with my background, and said the local public library was hiring a cataloger. That was in 2008, and I’ve been here ever since.
What do you enjoy about working with the Library?
Even though I don’t work directly with patrons, they are still very much at the center of what I do. Cataloging, reviewing item records, and generally preparing materials to be checked out, I always ask myself “Will the patron be able to find it?” It’s about following standards, but then adding some flexibility to help people find the books they want. I think the world is still very much in love with books.
You also paint, don’t you?
Yes. Recently I began doing watercolor painting. After my husband Gil died, I took a course at Anderson University’s Lifelong Learning. I have found it to be great therapy. I don’t have any formal training, and every time I do another painting, I learn something new. I currently do watercolors of animals, doing portraits of people’s pets, and then giving them away. I have dreams of doing bigger canvases one day.
What do you enjoy reading, or what are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. I love Louise Penny’s mystery series, as well as Donna Leon’s mysteries, but I would have to say that Agatha Christie is a favorite author.
I’ve also begun writing my own memoirs, including some of my own poems and some Christmas stories I’ve written. It’s an amazing experience, to reflect on my life, laugh at myself sometimes. Everyone is a library, and when you pass on, that book is gone.
You can find Susan at the Anderson Main Library, working with her staff to get books on the shelves and ready to be checked out!
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