Volunteer pens book about Manheim Community Library

By on May 3, 2017

Manheim Community Library’s “Mr. Russ” is a familiar sight to library patrons of all ages. The genial Manheim resident volunteers on Mondays and Fridays.

Those experiences inspired the Rev. Russell Stahley to pen “My Favorite Days,” a 24-page soft-cover children’s book published by Masthof Press.

“The library is my favorite place to be. I meet so many wonderful people, and the staff just sparkles,” Stahley said with a smile.

“We’re honored by the book. It’s wonderful to have someone who loves the library so much,” said Melissa Foltz, library director.

The Rev. Russell Stahley with his newest children’s book, “My Favorite Days,” in the Manheim Community Library, which serves as the setting for the book.

The Rev. Russell Stahley with his newest children’s book, “My Favorite Days,” in the Manheim Community Library, which serves as the setting for the book.

She said she plans to honor Stahley during a Library System of Lancaster County event in April. During that event, the director of each library selects a volunteer, staff or board member to honor for their service. The library hosted a book signing for “My Favorite Days” during its Feb. 17 Library Lovers Celebration.

This is Stahley’s third children’s book. His other two books, both published by Masthof Press, are Christmas stories. “Why the Wolf Howls” was published in 2014, and that was followed by “Bethlehem Stagecoach” in 2015.

“Writing children’s books is a good thing to do in retirement,” the retired pastor said.

He explained that the idea for “My Favorite Days” came from the children who visit the library.

“One boy really inspired me. He was five years old at the time, and he was checking out books about trains,” Stahley said. “I asked him about his interest, and he explained how a locomotive works — the coal, the steam, the pistons. It was amazing to hear that from a five-year-old.”

A poem he wrote about books, which was published in Manheim’s now defunct Stiegel News, is included on the last page of the new book. The illustration on that page depicts the 78-year-old author on a bike, ready to set out for an adventure — “{books} take me to places I could not go…”

“My Favorite Days” is illustrated by Emerald Smucker, a senior at Dayspring Christian Academy, Mountville. Stahley said that he first saw Smucker’s artwork on display at the Manheim Community Farm Show two years ago.

“I really liked her style,” he said. “She was really great to work with on this book.”

Smucker, who plans to minor in art in college, said that this was the first time she worked in illustrations.

“It was challenging; I had to get into the author’s head to create the illustrations for each page,” she explained. “The children I drew are based on the children that he interacted with.”

Stahley’s life has been about stories. He was born the night Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds” was on radio. The 78-year-old said that his wife, Kathleen, keeps him “grounded” and calls her “one of the great influences on my life.”

A graduate of Lebanon Valley College and United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio, he also holds a degree from the University of Nebraska, where he studied modern European and English history.

He served for over 30 years as a pastor in Ohio, Nebraska, and southeastern Pennsylvania. He served at Manheim’s Salem United Methodist Church from 1969 to 1977, and went on to serve other congregations. After retiring, he returned to Manheim and became a library volunteer.

Anyone interested in purchasing “My Favorite Days” can visit the Manheim Community Library, 15 E. High St., Manheim. The cost of the book is $7.

Used book sale

The Friends of the Manheim Community Library are hosting a used book sale at the Manheim Farm Show Building, 502 E. Adele Ave., on Thursday, and Friday May 4, and 5, from 9 a.m. to noon, and 3 to 7 p.m.; and Saturday, May 6 from 9 a.m. noon.

There will be a special story time with Miss Lisa at 10 a.m. on Thursday. On Saturday, books are $5 a bag.

Thousands of used books, CDs, DVDs, audio books, and videos will be available for purchase. Books are suitable for all ages, and include many New York Times best selling authors and award winning children’s works.

To learn more, call the library at 665-6700, or visit ManheimLibrary.org

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at RAASHENK@aol.com.

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