De Soto library page’s dedication wins county award
In his nearly two years as a page at the De Soto Library, Manuel DeLeon has done nearly everything but "ssshhh" unruly youngsters.
"I do that," said Melody Kinnamon, the branch manager of the De Soto Library. "He's too busy."
Hired as a part-time page in June 2003, the De Soto High School junior's job is supposed to be re-shelving books. But Kinnamon said she and the branch's other full-time employee, Janine Myers, depended on DeLeon for much more.
"We have to all wear so many hats because there's a lot to do with a small staff," Kinnamon said. "Manuel pitches in to do everything. He's a quick learner and very conscientious."
Impressed by DeLeon, Kinnamon and Myers nominated him for the Johnson County Library District's Beverly Hequist Award, given yearly to the district employee displaying the greatest commitment to patrons. Earlier this month DeLeon received the award, which came with a $100 check from the Friends of the Library.
Despite winning the award over more than 300 district employees and being the first page ever to do so, Kinnamon said she wasn't surprised.
"I just knew he was right when we nominated him," she said. "I just knew it.
"We went on and on about what a good worker he was -- about how focused he is because we ask so much of him."
DeLeon said he was encouraged to apply for the page position by Myers' predecessor, Jane Rockhold.
"A few days later, I got the call," he said. "I really like the atmosphere here. It's a very good place to work."
Before starting at the library, DeLeon worked at a fast-food restaurant like most of his friends. Although he said he thought the library was a better place to work, he added, "it gets busy here too."
It was at those busy times she and Myers greatly appreciated DeLeon, Kinnamon said. In addition to shelving the 81,000 items checked out of the library in 2004, he knew how to jump on the computer for routine things like checking out books, as well as more complicated tasks like accessing the district's data base to order books not in the De Soto branch, she said.
Best of all, Kinnamon said, DeLeon didn't have to be told what to do.
"He always finds something to do," she said. "That's admirable, especially for someone his age."
DeLeon also allowed the library to reach out to De Soto's growing Hispanic population, Kinnamon said.
"We have a lot of patrons who just wait for him to come on duty since he's so fluent in Spanish," she said.
DeLeon said he hoped to attend Kansas University after graduating from De Soto High School and perhaps study business.