2009 Huntington North graduate doesn’t have to go too far to find the place that makes him happy

Nicholas Stephan sits at his desk in the Markle Public Library, where he is now serving as branch manager.
Nicholas Stephan sits at his desk in the Markle Public Library, where he is now serving as branch manager. Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Jan. 11, 2016.

Nicholas Stephan didn’t have to go far to find his place.

It’s just 18 miles from his boyhood home in Bippus to his new desk in Markle.

From that desk, he directs the workings of the Markle Public Library, a place he’s come to love.

“I like the order,” he says. “I like the peacefulness.”

Stephan has been at the Markle library since mid-December as branch manager, a title that’s new to the facility.

“I have decision making power as to what kinds of materials we should get rid of, and I have some say in acquisitions,” he explains. “And I supervise the one employee who works the day I don’t work.”

That employee is Deb Hersey, who splits her time between the Markle library and the Huntington library, the two branches of the Huntington City-Township Public Library.

But there’s a new building under construction for the Markle library, and staffing may expand once that opens, Stephan says.

The opening of the new building — expected to happen sometime this spring — will open all kinds of new possibilities, and Stephan is clearly looking forward to that. But for now, he’s getting acquainted with the library in its current form.

“I don’t expect I’ll change much until we get to the new building,” he says. “I want to see how things work as they are.”

Stephan took a roundabout route to a career in libraries, earning an elementary education degree from Trine University after graduating from Huntington North High School in 2009. He got a job teaching music in an elementary school — and quickly decided that wasn’t where he wanted to be.

“I got to brainstorming about what people do who have a teaching degree and some experience in the classroom,” he says.

The answer?

A library.

He applied for jobs at several area libraries, and the Huntington library hired him last February as a youth services clerk.

“Within the first month, I knew that working in a library was going to make me happy,” he says.

In less than a year, he was tapped as branch manager for the Markle library.

While the job as youth services clerk was an entry level job, his new position will require him to go back to school for additional classes in library science. He plans to eventually earn a master’s degree in library science.

“I had a very limited understanding of how libraries work,” Stephan says of his early days at the Huntington library. He caught on quickly, and decided his career switch was a good one.

“At the library, people come in and they’re self-directed,” he says.

Visitors to the library generally have a pretty good idea of what they want and what they like, he says, and he’s happy to offer suggestions building on their likes and dislikes. Sometimes, he says, they just need help figuring out the Internet, the fax machine or the copier. And that’s OK, he says.

“It excites me to help people with something that will help them succeed in their lives,” he says.

He also likes the opportunity to deal with people of all ages, from toddlers with their parents to grandmas and grandpas.

“Mostly, people come in to a library because they want to be there,” he says. “In the classroom, they had to be there.”

While the current Markle library building is small, he says, it has a lot to offer.

“I was surprised about how much stuff, how many materials, we have in this space that you can check out,” he says.

The new building, located just blocks away, will offer even more — and not just in materials that can be checked out.

“We have some space issues,” he says of the library’s current quarters. “There’s not a lot of space to sit and read, to sit and do homework.”

The new building will offer areas for visitors to stay at while they read a book or a newspaper, he says.

“Here, you come, get what you need, and leave,” he says.

The new building will have room for programming, space community groups can rent, a dedicated children’s area and an area for young adults.

The current children’s area has lots of books and no place to play, and the young adult area has a corner with a chair, he says.

“Things will be different in the new building,” he says.