If you’ve been to the Patrick Heath Public Library recently, there’s a good chance you’ve seen Library Associate Alison Topper at one of the circulation desks or working on one project or another.
Alison taught high school in San Antonio before retiring in 2021. That’s when she started volunteering at the library and is now one of the part-time associates assisting library visitors every day.
The job of a library associate comes with a diverse set of duties, she says, which has built on the skillset she acquired as a teacher and as an accountant and bookkeeper before that.
“When I first volunteered here, I was like, ‘Wow, this is really great.’ All I was doing was shelving books, but it was kind of like a Zen thing,” Alison said. “I really love getting to know the patrons and talking to them about the books they’re checking out.”
But as Alison can tell you, there is so much more to the library than checking out a book.
“I think some people might be surprised with the diversity of the programs we offer, like live music performances, free tax assistance, tech support, genealogy research, and homebound services for patrons who can’t make it in regularly,” Alison said. “The diversity and the quantity of the resources and programs we have here at the library is astonishing. People are always happy when they find out.”
When she’s not helping someone find a book, Alison can be found leading youth workshops or setting up in the lobby for Ask Alison – when she is available for technology assistance every Wednesday from 1-2 p.m. No appointments necessary.
Alison and her family have lived in Boerne for the last 20 years, drawn to the community by family and the natural beauty of the area. Her daughter works for the local chamber of commerce and her son-in-law is a Boerne firefighter. She also has a son who lives just down the road in San Antonio.
“For somebody who is a teacher, you kind of go into that with a desire to improve your community,” she said. “After working in San Antonio for so long, it really means a lot to me that I’ve been able to come here and work in my own community and be part of something that a lot of people think highly of.”