University Communications

The Newsletter for Marshall University                July 11, 2012

Profile: Cathy Cover

The age-old adage, "If at first you don’t succeed, just keep trying," could be Cathy Cover’s mantra. After all, it was her persistence in the face of some daunting challenges that paid off and led her to a circulation position in Marshall’s Morrow library more than 20 years ago.

Back then she was working part time at the Mason County Library branch in Hannan, but needed a full-time job. An ad for an opening in the Morrow Library caught her eye and she applied, unaware that there was a hiring freeze on at the time. The position she applied for went to someone else, but faith and hope kept her going and sure enough, a short time later she got the call to come to Marshall for another position in circulation which had become available despite the hiring freeze that was still in effect. Today she’s still with the library, located now in Drinko, in customer services where she helps at the circulation desk two hours a day and the interlibrary loan services the rest of the time.

As part of the interlibrary loan program, “we lend and borrow from all over,” Cover says, and items can include books, journal articles, microfilm and videos. “We get and send articles all over the world but we try to keep loans in the continental United States as much as possible because of the cost.” Libraries can’t afford to own every book and journal so they’re traded among institutions, she explains. “Interlibrary loan is particularly important to make materials available for accreditation purposes. The cost is prohibitive to own everything that is required.”

Technology has made library work faster and more efficient and in most cases, cheaper, she says … no more cumbersome typed records, forms done in triplicate or hard-to-decipher handwritten forms, she’s happy to say. She can tick off a plethora of programs available now that speed and refine requests. There’s EZBorrow, a program that exchanges books only; RAPID (for journal articles), which as it names indicates aims for a fast-turnaround time, usually 24 hours; and ILLiad, a program written by interlibrary loan librarians who well knew what is needed. These programs are not only faster and more efficient, they’re also more accurate, Cover says. And perhaps best of all, they’re user friendly.

Using IDS Express (Information Delivery Services), “students can go to the MU Library website and create their own account, put in their information and put everything online. These programs are very powerful; we can often get articles back within hours,” she says.

Her work has been rewarding since she left the Mason County home in which she had lived for 20 years, but the Mason County years were fulfilling as well and there were some triumphs. She’s justifiably proud that both her children, daughter Michelle and son Michael Alford, now a mechanical engineer for an oil refinery in the state of Washington, were both valedictorians of their graduating classes at Hannan High School. Michelle went on to receive her Regents BA degree from Marshall and now also works in the Drinko Library.

Remarried in 2004 to Sam Cover, whom she characterizes as a multi-skilled Jack of all trades --”He can do anything!”,  she says proudly. As a result she’s found herself deep into any number of renovation projects. But she’s no amateur either, having pitched in to help build her Mason County home from the ground up. She and Sam installed new windows themselves last year, they built and screened in a porch and right now they’re busy remodeling their kitchen, installing some old but new-to-them cabinets a friend gave them. “We’re recyclers, we have a house built back in the 1940s which needs a lot of work so we take things where we can find them and fit them into the house. One time Sam traded a hand-made swing for a picture window. Many times a little paint will make things match. But the most important thing is we work well together and I’ve always wanted to be able to do that.”

And it was Sam who introduced her to the artistry of the scroll saw and all the possibilities of things she could create with it. That particular tool is used to make small. intricate and decorative cuts, she explains. “It’s a very versatile tool but it’s very precise. You draw lines and follow them and it’s very difficult to learn. Most lines done with scroll saws are curvy but after a few years I’ve gotten good enough to do a straight line which may sound odd but it’s by far the most difficult thing to do.” She started small by crafting tree and seasonal ornaments, the usual bells, Santas, even snowflakes. Today she can turn out almost anything including thicker letters spelling out names for wall, table or mantel displays, a favorite for fond grandparents, as well as wooden baskets and trays. They’ve taken her wares to a few craft shows—the Library Associates' old Hollyberry Festival was a favorite—but mostly her handiwork is done by special orders and word-of-mouth advertising. And, of course, her creativity and carefully honed skills make for welcome gifts for lucky family and friends.

She pitches right in to help Sam craft his specialty, outdoor furniture, particularly gliders and porch swings. If they sound complicated to make, they can be, but again this pair works in smooth tandem. “We get a pattern and we start cutting out and then we assemble them with glue and screws. We use good quality wood, heavier than most commercial ones. They’re made to be comfortable with curved backs and seats. We sand and paint, he does the big areas and I’m more the brush artist. They will last for years if treated well.” And the Covers are not only good with their hands, they’re savvy marketers as well. They live on busy Rt. 2, so one summer they simply set a few of his pieces in the yard and sure enough people not only stopped to admire them but bought as well. “We sold at least 10 swings that year and this year he’s already sold a glider and has orders for two others,” she says.

The couple are tireless workers at their church, the Apostolic Church in Lesage, currently raising money to buy the church property they’ve been leasing. They believe in sharing their time and talents with others and readily pitch in wherever needed. Recently, for instance, they helped install a new church kitchen. And of course, they always make plenty of time to spend with their pride and joy, her two-year-old granddaughter, Jessie Lee Tyler.

Cover particularly relishes the family type connections of the library staff. “Even when some of us who were in Morrow moved to Drinko we’ve stayed connected. I see everything about my getting here as God’s plan. I was in a difficult time, I needed a job, I was hired during a hiring freeze for a job that wasn’t even available at the time I applied, which I consider a true miracle. He put me in a place that would be a perfect place for me. He gave me two wonderful children who are great, caring, responsible, adults, and a husband that fits like a T—I know that with God as our guide we can do anything!”


Photo (below): Cathy Cover poses with one of the clocks she's made with a scroll saw.

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