PITTSBURG — After nearly 20 years at the Pittsburg Public Library, Bev Clarkson has earned her place in the 2019 Women of Distinction calendar.
Clarkson, the PPL director, and 11 others have a short biography and their photograph in the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 community calendar. The calendar is available at the chamber office.  
“I’m not sure I’m all that deserving but I’m honored and humbled to be recognized with the other women on the list this year — and in previous years,” Clarkson said.
Clarkson has worked at the library for over 18 years. She began working part time in the reference department.
“It was very satisfying to help people find the books and information they needed,” she said. “Within a year or so, I also began working in the youth services department.
“That’s when the youth services librarian and I began developing many of the kids and young adult programs at the library. That was really a joy—I felt like I had found my calling.”
She then began working on a master’s program at Emporia State University to make librarianship her career. Clarkson balanced the online and weekend-intensive program while working Monday through Friday at the library. She drove to Emporia a few times a month to attend her weekend classes.
“I was a single parent at the time, so it required a bit of juggling,” Clarkson said. “It took me four years to earn the MLS (Master of Library Science), but it was worth it.”
Clarkson then became the assistant director of the Pittsburg Public Library and approximately six years ago she was named director.  
Her duties include working with the Library Board of Trustees on the overall management of the library — developing the library budget, bills, building maintenance, staffing, policies, collection development, programs and services.
“I feel like I am one of the most fortunate people on the planet,” Clarkson said. “I get to come to this historic library building every day and work with people who are dedicated to giving great library service to our community.”
The library is more than just about books, Clarkson said. The library offers computer classes, technology assistance, hundreds of programs a year for all ages and a wide array of digital resources.
“We are so appreciative of the support we receive from our patrons. Our goal is to keep the library current and relevant in order to meet our community’s changing needs,” she said. “We are, above all, a service profession. I think the most meaningful part of being a librarian is when you can connect with a person and help them out in some way.”
Recently, one of her coworkers had helped someone with their resume — something the library does often — and a few days later that person came back and told her she got a job because of the help she received.
“I just love moments like that,” Clarkson said. “It’s those connections that count.
“Whether you are connecting a person with a book, information, or a new skill.”

Clarkson also serves as Executive Director of the Pittsburg Public Library Foundation and as a member of the Friends of the Library board.  She is also a member of the Executive Board of the Southeast Kansas Library System.
Outside of working at the library, Clarkson volunteers at The Lord’s Diner.
“Working at the library, I see poverty and homelessness on a daily basis and the Lord’s Diner provides such a great service for our community,” she said.
And of course, on of Clarkson’s hobbies includes reading books.
“I cannot imagine a life without books,” she said.
She also spends time with her husband, Jamie, who shares the love for music, history and art, along with attending concerts and visiting museums. They also like to travel, although they are “homebodies” and like to “putter around the garden” and play with their dogs.
Clarkson and her husband have four children who are “all grown now and are great people.”
“I’m very proud of them,” Clarkson said.
Over the years, she has been inspired by many people. Her parents taught her by example “that you show up on time, work hard, and do what needs to be done,” she said. “I’ve also had the benefit of many wonderful teachers over the years.”
One of her most vivid memories from childhood was visiting the Weir Public Library.
“Mrs. Eunice Bernardi, the librarian, came up to me and said, ‘Bevy, I think I have something you will like,’ and she handed me a ‘Hardy Boys’ mystery book,” Clarkson said. “It sounds like such as simple thing—but it truly was a life changing moment for me.
“I loved those books—but that was just the beginning. Then I read the Nancy Drew series and Trixie Belden—and on and on. She had me hooked on reading.  I think I read every book in that little library.  I felt like she had given me the world. That is the wonderful thing about reading — you can go anywhere and do anything when you read.”
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.