A closer look at our amazing staff

By Kathryn Johnson

Many of our patrons may have noticed a few new faces behind the desk and assisting with programs. We are very fortunate to have some additional staff on board and look forward to introducing them in the next issue. For this issue, however, we thought we would formally introduce some of our long time staff.

Cheryl [last name withheld] has been a clerk with San Diego Public Library for 12 years and has been at the Allied Gardens/Benjamin library for seven of those years. She loves serving our tight-knit community of library users, especially our littlest patrons. Some of her interests outside of the library include playing piano, attending concerts, watching British television (especially “Doctor Who” and “Sherlock”), drinking tea, overseeing the video prompt ministry at her church, hiking and riding roller coasters. One of her most memorable experiences while working at the library was when she used her CPR/AED skills to aid in the saving of a life of a patron.


René Gehr (left) and Cheryl (Courtesy of Allied Gardens Branch Library)

Brendan [last name withheld] is a library aide who began his career at the Allied Gardens/Benjamin library over 10 years ago. Prior to this, he worked at an academic library. Brendan enjoys his time with his co-workers as well as working at other branches. He enjoys reading (perfect for working in a library!) and drawing cartoons for library staff. When asked about some of his more interesting library experiences, Brendan spoke of the time a librarian found over $900 in a donated book; the occasion when a young person informed him that he lost his praying mantis in the library; and the unusual bookmarks he has come across such as family photos, a $100 bill and dental floss.

René Gehr is one of the newer staff at our library and has been with the San Diego Public Library for three years as a library assistant. She, along with fellow city employee, Eric Rife were the recipients of Mayor Faulconer’s 2015 San Diego Works Program Award for their idea for the San Diego Public Library, Fine Free Discount Month. She likes to read non-fiction, especially books about art. Many people don’t know that Gehr is a professor of art history for San Diego Community College. She thinks the best thing about the Benjamin Branch is the avid readers of all ages. She loves getting good recommendations for her monthly book displays so come visit her with your book recommendations.

Happenings at the library

The Allied Gardens/Benjamin Library has a plethora of great programs coming up in the next few months. In December, we will be offering our typical array of adult programs including both Hatha Yoga for adults and Friday Fitness Fun. We also have some fun events lined up for our younger patrons.

One such event will be the Gift Tree starting on Friday, Dec. 1. Since everyone loves receiving gifts and we all appreciate the magic of picture books, we decided to combine the two. Our gift tree will have wrapped library books for young children to check out and open at home. Children will enjoy the surprise of a book they may not have read before or revisit an old favorite. Another event in December will be the Create Your Own Ornament Contest where youth ages 0–17 can design and create their own ornaments to hang on our library trees, the most creative submissions will win prizes.

We have lots of fun programs and events lined up for the New Year so stay tuned to our column. In the meantime, see you at the library.

—Kathryn Johnson is managing librarian of the Allied Gardens/Benjamin Branch library. Reach her at

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