I, along with hundreds of others, young and old have enjoyed the fruit of Carolyn Allar’s "plantings." Back in 2003, when the Sunday School program was restyled to the "Rotational" model, Carolyn was asked to design a library for children in one of the empty rooms of the educational wing. Children books have always been Carolyn’s passion – so she was very excited at the opportunity to create an enchanting place of learning for the children!
Carolyn had more ideas than the allotted $250 budget would allow, but with her sister’s creative help, and donations from her Lord family cousins in memory of their mothers, they came up with the Henrietta Lord Children’s Library our children get to enjoy. The first time Pastor Denise laid eyes on this gem she was astounded!
While Carolyn was working on the Children’s Library project, she asked if she would be allowed to work on updating/recataloging the Victorine Sears Library. In 2003, the trustees established a budget line in support of the library and Carolyn began selecting new books. The Sears library is now a cozy space for adults to sit and enjoy reading. As soon as new books are cataloged and labeled, they are placed on a library table in the Sears library or on the book shelves in the hallway next to the red parlors where folks are more likely to see them. These books are adult level reading and include spiritual, political, popular and educational materials. The room also contains the James Magaw collection of books that he reviewed for the Methodist Commission on Global Mission. Carolyn uses resources she has available at Kenyon to select wonderfully varied books that we all enjoy.
Did you know that Carolyn hasn’t always worked at Kenyon College Library? Though one of Thomas Wolfe’s book titles states: "You Can’t Go Home Again," Carolyn did come home again, after a thirty year stint of being about living.
Carolyn Lord Allar was born into the Gay Street UM Church family seventy-one years ago. From High School graduation in 1958 until 1988, she lived in Columbus, Ohio. She studied Music at OSU, performed in area symphonies, married and raised a family. After her divorce in 1974, she was terribly worried about how she would be able to raise her four children on her own without living in poverty. A friend suggested she inquire about jobs in the Air Force. She didn’t hold out much hope that they would be interested in a single mom – but they were. At age thirty-five she found herself in Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas. "What a shock for someone with teacher training. Military training methods surely don’t agree with the teaching methods I studied at Ohio State." Eventually Carolyn was permanently assigned to Rickenbacker Air Force base in Columbus, Ohio and to the Consolidated Base Personnel Office where she rose rapidly through the ranks, in minimum time to Master Sergeant. By 1980 she was in charge of all Training for the 160th Air Refueling Group (SAC) and the 121st Tactical Fighter Wing (TAC) Ohio Air National Guard units at Rickenbacker. In 1988 - a year that changed her life for many personal reasons, Carolyn decided she needed to return to Mount Vernon. The Kenyon College Library was advertising for a position that her music background would fit. Twenty three years later she is still cataloging music as well as most other materials for the Kenyon Library as well as some for Denison University. It turns out Library work is where she feels she should have always been...but she took an around about way of getting there.
You can usually find Carolyn on Wednesday evenings in the church libraries. You will find her there, too, before and after Sunday services. She also will work a Saturday or Sunday afternoon catching up. Carolyn usually reads most of the books she buys for the Libraries thanks to the "speed reading" method she learned while in college. "Like other women collect shoes – I collect books." One book she would recommend to everyone is "Michael Polon’s Botany of Desire – within its pages is the best biography of Johnny Appleseed, I have read."
The biggest influences in her life were "my Parents, and Aunts and Uncles who raised all fourteen of my ‘Lord’ first cousins and twenty-four of my ‘Huggins’ first cousins ‘in a pack’ – seeing to our manners, our values and our spiritual lives, acting as a team and keeping us busy with wholesome activities." Many of those people were also members of our church.
When Carolyn has a chance to recharge her favorite place to go is Lakeside. She loves to sit on a bench with a good book and watch a storm begin to travel across the lake. We are truly blessed with Carolyn’s gifts and talents. Thank you God, for sending Carolyn back home!
-Jan L. Talbott
The full article was originally published in the July 2011 Tower Topics newsletter.