Sister Carlanita Jones, a guest at Alvernia College, attended a one day preparatory meeting for the General Chapter of the Congregation of the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters held in June 2000.
The evening before the meeting Sister Carlanita was comfortably seated in my office when she began slowly sharing thoughts of her early days as a student and a junior professed Sister here at Alvernia College. Then she burst forth commenting emphatically: It was May, 1962 and this was the second graduating class at Alvernia. There were thirteen religious students (all Bernardines), a baker’s dozen, as Sister Accursia, the Academic Dean, labeled them. The graduation was held Sunday, May 27, 1962 in Francis Hall auditorium. Monsignor Heusman, pastor of St. Paul’s Church in Reading, delivered the Commencement Address and presented the diplomas. It was a joyous occasion. Sisters and family members were in attendance. Of the thirteen graduates, eleven were American Sisters and two were Brazilian.
Sister continued remarking that the Alvernia College Library was lacking in quality, so to supplement writing term papers, the students had to make many trips to the Reading Public Library on Fifth Street. She recalled that one term paper assigned by Sister Zygmunta, president of Alvernia and History professor, was Theodore Roosevelt and His Big Stick Policy. Every student Sister was given a specific topic to explore. Sister Accursia in her course on Educational Psychology gave a term paper on the method of education employed by Jean Jacque Rousseau from France. It was a difficult paper to write since it entailed a lot of research.
Despite the lack of textbooks the professor Sisters had accumulated a wide range of knowledge which they were able to impart to the students in their respective areas. This type of learning helped them to prepare for graduate studies and as future teachers. The acquired knowledge was priceless given in a very special manner – Sisters preparing Sisters for their ministry as teachers.
In order to teach religious education in the Scranton Diocese, the courses that the Sisters had taken at Alvernia in Theology and Philosophy were evaluated. These classes were sufficient to qualify the Sisters to teach religious education at all grade levels. Most of the Theology and Philosophy courses were taught by Rev. Joseph Zmijewski, D.D.
Following graduation, Sister Carlanita spent twelve years in elementary education teaching in every grade level in the Archdioceses of Philadelphia and Detroit, and in the Dioceses of Scranton, Saginaw Michigan, and Dallas, Texas.
On September 1, 1974 Sister received her MSLS degree from Villanova University.
She served as a librarian in the following high schools:
1974 – La Reine in Suitland, Maryland
1977 – Bishop Hafey in Hazleton, Pennsylvania
1982-83 – St. Pius X in Pottstown, Pennsylvania
1983-86 – Bishop Hafey in Hazleton, Pennsylvania
On June 21, 1986, Sister Carlanita was appointed Director of Library Services at Alvernia where she remained until July 31, 1992. With a budget of only $20,000 it was difficult to function the first year. Many much needed books had to be added to the college collection. Equipment and videos had to be replaced for the growing Nursing Department.
With each succeeding year she said that the budget was increased, needed materials were continuously acquired and the library collection began to grow. In the meantime, plans were being made for a new and a much needed library. There was no elevator in Francis Hall. The major part of the book collection was located on level one while reference books and periodicals were found on level four.
With the onslaught of Computer Technology, it was through the intervention of Sister Alodia, Interim Academic Dean, that the library acquired the OCLC System for cataloging books in the fall of 1990. It was also through her intervention that Sister Carlanita and her library staff were given computer instruction by Polly Mathys, the Chairperson of the Computer Information Systems.
Sister Dolorey, President of Alvernia, had a great vision for Alvernia’s new library. Through her diligent efforts plans were materialized by the architectural firm of Breslin, Ridyard, & Fadero of Allentown, Pennsylvania. Alvin H. Butz Inc. of Allentown, construction manager, built the library for Allentown College of St. Francis and the Stabler Arena for Lehigh University. It was their reputation as great architects and construction managers that they were chosen to build Dr. Frank A. Franco Library. The plans for this building were completed, signed and sealed on March 1, 1990. It was unfortunate that Sister Dolorey neither saw the construction nor the completion of this magnificent library due to her resignation as College President.
The construction of the library began when the ground breaking ceremony was over. John Allen from the Alvin H. Butz Inc. was manager of the project. Hiring and firing of contracted companies was his responsibility. Robin Breslin of the Breslin, Ridyard, & Fadero architectural firm designed this award winning building. He is now known in the United States for his unique and aesthetically designed college libraries. By December 8, the steel girders were put in place. Then by the beginning of January 1991, the first and second floors of concrete were laid. Soon the library began to take shape inside.
In April 1991, Dan Casciano, President DeLucca, Daniel Fanelli, Gayle Cardoni and Sister Carlanita went to Allentown to the offices of Breslin, Ridyard & Fadero to choose the furniture for the library. It would be measured and ordered by Robin and Gwen Breslin. Since there was no delay, the deadline for completion was met by the end of July 1991.
In August 1991, a group of Professional Library Movers from New York City were hired to move the library.
To transfer the books from the first level of the old library to the new library, wooden units of shelving with wheels were used. These wooden units filled with books from the first level were rolled out through the beautiful ornate main entrance of Francis Hall onto a Ryder Truck for transportation to the new library. A former Columbia University librarian and Sister Carlanita supervised the placement of the books and the computerized maps in the new library.
To remove the books from the fourth level in Francis Hall, a portable lift was used to roll the wooden units of shelving with library materials on a slanted plank of wood through a window (the entire large window of now Room 410 was removed) onto the hydraulic lift. As the hydraulic lift came to the ground, the books and bound periodicals on the rolling units of shelving went into the truck. One very precious memory of this move was a man named Rusty who suffered from asthma. He carried the Spanish statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to the corner of the second floor of the new library with great reverence and placed it on the pedestal in the very place of its present location – between the portraits of Sister M. Victorine and Sister M. Dolorey, former presidents of Alvernia College.
Because the Professional Library Movers overbooked themselves with New York University, they moved only the major portion of the book collection and a portion of the bound periodicals. They left with the library incompleted on the last Sunday of August 1991, and went back to New York University. Sister Carlanita was as she put it “aghast.”
The next day, Gayle Cardoni, the purchaser, hired Brown Transfer from Reading, Pennsylvania, to move the remaining items. These were placed in card board boxes since Brown Transfer is a house moving company. The last week of August, Brown Transfer completed the remainder of the move and the Alvernia library staff had to unpack the books, shelve the materials and have the new library open for students on the first day of the Fall semester, September 3, 1991. To put it all in a nutshell – the library move just about became a nightmare because all the boxes had to be unpacked from Brown Transfer. They were piled to the ceiling on the first floor of the new library. As for the special Polish Collection, Sister Carlanita had the backbreaking work of unpacking the books, placing them on the shelves in the Bonaventure Room, thus completing the priceless collection. This Polish Collection contains Polish classics and other rare and valuable books in the Polish language.
On October 2, the memorable white statue of Saint Francis was placed outside above the entrance to the library. The Dr. Frank A. Franco Library was dedicated by Bishop Thomas Welsh of Allentown on the Feast of St. Francis, October 3, 1991.
On the Feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross, September 14, 1991, Sister Carlanita comments about her new assignment. Sister felt a strong call to enter the field of Nursing for the precise purpose of ministering to the elderly and terminally ill Sisters at the St. Joseph Villa. After a brief period of discernment, at the suggestion of her Provincial Minister, Sister decided to enter the Nursing Program in Hazleton under the direction of Ms. Anne Marie Bonomo. Plans were made to find a new Library Director. Through a committee search, Dr. Eugene Mitchell was selected. A farewell social was held in the Bonaventure Room of the library on June 4, 1992, for Sister Carlanita. On July 31, 1992, Sister left to prepare for her new career at the Hazleton Area Career Center. She graduated on September 2, 1993 passing her State Boards on October 13, 1993 as an LPN. She assumed her position as an assistant Supervisor at the Saint Joseph Villa in Reading, Pennsylvania.
Her gentleness and dedication in the care of the loving elderly ill Sisters was greatly appreciated.
Interviewed by Sister M. Alodia Podczasy, February 11, 2000, Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes
The University Archives are located at the 951 Morgantown Offices on the first floor. Please contact Sharon Neal, Library Director to schedule an appointment.