Meet Your Tidelines Staff: Phyllis Harper

The following is the continuation of a series of stories about all of the people who make up the Tidelines staff. Previous stories have covered Dennis Pescitelli, Cathrine Scully, and Veronica L’Allier.

PhyllisPhyllis Harper, Tidelines Editor

Phyllis Harper is relatively new to Tidelines in the job of editor, having joined the team in May of 2015, but she has already displayed her significant skills in pursuing Tidelines goals.

Phyllis is the oldest of seven children and they are all very close. She calls herself an Army brat having moved around quite a bit with her military family. She graduated from the State University of New York at New Paltz at the age of twenty. She met and married Walt not long after he graduated from West Point, and they have done their share of traveling. First, Walt was sent to Viet Nam, so Phyllis went to Salt Lake City, Utah, to be close to and get to know his Idaho family better. When Walt returned from Viet Nam, he was sent to Oklahoma, then to Germany, where their first son was born.

They returned from Germany and once out of the Army, Walt went to law school at Vanderbilt. Phyllis got a job at the circulation desk at the Joint University Library at Vanderbilt. It was to be the beginning of her long love and association with libraries.

When Walt finished law school, the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where Phyllis went on to graduate from Kent State with a Masters Degree in Library Science. She initially worked in several public libraries in the suburbs of Cleveland, but ultimately found herself at the Shaker Heights Public Library where she was Community Services librarian. It was at this point in her career that she started Friends of the Library, which is on going to this day.

As her family got older, it became more difficult to coordinate work schedules with the needs of active children, so Phyllis became a school librarian to accommodate everyone’s schedules.

Phyllis worked in various school libraries, but in 1990 she was hired to build the new library for the Hathaway Brown School in Shaker Heights, Ohio. She planned the library from the studs out. She was to be their head librarian for 23 years.

She saw many changes in libraries in her years of working, one being the incredible changes computers have brought to library systems. Computers had been around, but without the same vision we have for them today. She put the library’s catalog and circulation system on‐line, making theirs the only school library in the area to be on‐line. She started by lending books and ended by lending Kindle books.

Walt retired in 2009 and Phyllis followed in 2011. They had purchased a house on Seabrook Island in 2005, and they moved here following her retirement. Her early years of retirement were spent caring for her mother, who lived in Charlotte. That made it difficult for her to take on other projects, but Tidelines has been a boon for her as she can participate in it from anywhere.

Phyllis has been a terrific addition to the Tidelines team. She approaches new projects with enthusiasm and a willingness to take on the research and development projects necessary to keep Tidelines up to date. We all welcome Phyllis to Tidelines. We are lucky to have her.

-Submitted by Barbara Burgess Tidelines Writer

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