O'Fallon Progress

Sue Rupright puts passion for books into service to the public library

Suzanne Rupright.
Suzanne Rupright.

An avid reader, Suzanne Rupright is as passionate about the O’Fallon Public Library as she is books.

“I love to read and encourage all people to read,” she said. “There is nothing like a good book to get your mind off these troubling times.”

“Books open so many worlds. Suddenly, you are in Middle-earth, on the plains of Mordor on the way to throw the Ring,” she said. “You can see other people’s points of view, too.”

She not only is a volunteer with the Friends of the O’Fallon Library but also serves as a director on the O’Fallon Library Board.

She was appointed to the board two years ago, and enjoys serving the community that way, too.

“I like helping make decisions that has made the O’Fallon Public Library an award-winning institution,” he said.

As a volunteer, she has been working on the upcoming book sale that the library will hold this weekend: Friday, Nov. 2, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 3, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 4, from 1 to 5 p.m.

“The book sales require a ton of work by volunteers to set up. The library staff and board appreciate all their hard work. The money they raise is a real help in funding many of the programs the library offers,” said Library Director Molly Scanlan.

Books, CDs, DVDs, LPs, comics and children’s book are among the offerings the library collects from donors.

There are four small sales the library holds throughout the year, and their biggest sale takes place annually in May.

“We hope everyone will come to the sale to find some great deals and help the Library at the same time. It will be the last one this year, Scanlan said.

In a small nook at the library marked ‘Book Sale,” shelves are marked by categories – nonfiction, thrills and chills, romance, mysteries, science fiction and young adult. Magazines are free, children’s books are 50 cents and adult books are $1. These shelves are open to sales all year long.

The library has entered the cyber-age, too, as they sell donated used books on Amazon all year long.

Currently, the O’Fallon Library lists more than 1,100 books for sale online.

“It’s a good feeling to see what is selling on Amazon,” Rupright said.

A book about the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird sold for $499. The strategic reconnaissance aircraft was operated by the U.S. Air Force.

All the proceeds go back into the library.

Scanlan is appreciative of the volunteers’ efforts. About Sue, she said:

“She is always positive and has done a tremendous job organizing and bringing the online sale of used books to a new level,” Scanlan said. “She works with equally dedicated volunteers that work hard on the sale of books both online and in the Friend’s ‘Book Nook’ located in the library.”

Rupright can’t decide on just one book to recommend for fall reading – she said any of the books on the PBS “Great American Read” list (100 of the most beloved books voted on by the public) is a good recommendation.

“I tell people to pick a book by an author they’ve never heard of, and try them,” she said.

Rupright grew up in upstate New York, a town called Binghamton. She attended University of Arizona, majoring in business administration, and stayed there after graduation.

When she married Dale Rupright 26 years ago, they moved around like most U.S. Air Force personnel. Eventually, he was assigned to Scott Air Force Base, then retired, and they settled in O’Fallon.

“We liked it enough to stay for a while,” she said.

She previously worked in mutual funds and in movie theater management. While living in Los Angeles, she managed the AMC Century 14 in Century City, which often hosted movie premieres.

“When Steven Spielberg asks you to adjust the sound on his movie, you do that,” she said.

She loves movies as much as she loves to read, too. And traveling is another passion.

She and her husband recently visited Iceland.

“It was the coolest thing ever,” she said.

She is also an enthusiastic gardener and a member of the O’Fallon Garden Club and is an active parishioner at St. Clare Church. Her husband is a past president of the O’Fallon Rotary Club.

“We have a lot going on,” she said.

She is proud of the library’s work and how much of a community asset it is. “Just look at the success of the programs,” she said.

She enjoys spending time working to help the library’s mission. In the library’s back rooms, there is much work taking place.

It’s where the books are repaired, catalogued and processed by the staff librarians, she said.

In a storage room filled with boxes of donated books, volunteers check conditions and determine whether it has any value on Amazon.

The room has been referred to as “The Pit” and is more often called “Amazon Central” these days. But Amazon isn’t the only outlet for selling books. The library has an ebay account for more unique things.

The volunteers Friends group is not paid “except with the occasional book,” Rupright said. “But we usually read it and return it.”

Q: Do you have words to live by?

When I was very young, a priest in a non-air conditioned church on a nearly 100-degree day gave a simple homily. He said, “It’s hot out there. Be kind to each other.” I remember his whenever things are difficult.

Q: Whom do you most admire?

Stephanie Woollard, who went on vacation to Nepal when she was 22 and meet seven disabled women who were barely eking out a living and facing terrible discrimination. She founded Seven Women to teach them to read and job skills. Twelve years later, she and those seven women have educated and trained over 5.000 women in Nepal, giving the gift of literacy and job skills to improve their lives. She could have just gone home, but she did something to change the world. I know I didn’t have my life together enough at 22 to even think about doing anything like that.

Q: If you could spend time with a famous person, past or present, whom would it be?

There are so many to choose from, since you don’t want a list, I’ll narrow it down to one of my favorite science fiction authors, Ray Bradbury.

Q: What is the last book that you read?

This is not an easy question, I have several books in progress at any given moment. I finished three on the same day this week, the best was Erin Morgenstern’s “The Night Circus.”

Q: What do you do for fun and relaxation?

I like to garden, read, and travel with my husband.

Q: What is the usual state of your desktop?

My desktop rapidly varies from spotless to needing a backhoe to find. It’s currently in the controlled chaos phase.

Q: What did you want to do career wise when you were growing up?

I wanted to be a pirate -- didn’t everyone?

Q: What do you think is your most outstanding characteristic?

I’ve never given any thought to having an outstanding characteristic. I can laugh at myself and find humor in almost any situation.

Q: What irritates you most?

Mosquitoes and people who don’t understand how to navigate traffic circles.

Q: What type of music do you listen to?

Everything but country and hard core rap.

Q: What do you like most about your job?

Since it’s a volunteer position, I love setting my own hours and spending time with the people who volunteer with me. Oh yeah, and books -- did I mention the books? Lots of books. Books everywhere.

Q: If you were independently wealthy, what would you be doing?

If I were independently wealthy, I’d still volunteer at the library and do the other things I like to do, just with a little more travel, and with a full-time maid and cook.

Q: When they make a movie of your life, who would play you?

Michelle Dockery or a younger Dame Maggie Smith.

Q: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what would you have with you?

Well, since you haven’t limited me to one item, I’d have six things with me. I’d like a pillow, a book, and a glass of iced tea, so I can sit and relax while my husband works with an ax and duct tape to build a raft.