Longtime HPLM staffer promoted to head librarian

FREMONT — The Hayes Presidential Library & Museums has promoted a long-time employee to the position of head librarian.

John Ransom has served as interim head librarian for 11 months. He oversees the library operations and staff and works with patrons on their research questions. He has worked for the Hayes Presidential Library for the past 23 years.

Ransom replaces Becky Hill, from Tiffin, who retired last year and works one day a week in the library.

“Becky was a good mentor who helped prepare me for this job,” Ransom said.

Ransom started at Hayes Presidential in 1994 as a volunteer in the museum, where he cataloged artifacts and helped with exhibits. That’s when he met his wife, Brenda, who was working as a part-time cataloguer for the museum.

“I have always liked local history and interested in the past,” Ransom said. “A cousin and I worked together on our family genealogy while I was in high school and college and that is how I got interested in genealogy.”

Working at HPLM has given Ransom the unique opportunity to pursue both interests and pass that knowledge onto others working on their family history, he said.

Two years later, a part-time library job came open, and Ransom successfully applied. Then the job became a full-time position.

Ransom oversees two librarians and six volunteers. He catalogues new books, which he works with other staff members to order, related to President Rutherford B. Hayes, the Civil War, local history and other relevant topics. He answers in-person and email questions from patrons seeking help with local history, genealogy and other research topics. He also oversees maintenance of President Hayes’ more than 10,000 personal books, as well as the library’s periodical and newspaper collections.

“John has become an expert in our book, periodical and newspaper collections as well as a respected genealogy guru,” Christie Weininger, Hayes Presidential executive director, said in a release. “I often receive compliments from library patrons about the library staff. As one patron said: ‘The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums holds a special place in my heart due to the efforts of staff members like John.'”

Ransom said he enjoys working with the patrons and the books, manuscripts and artifacts at Hayes Presidential.

“I am very happy and honored to get this promotion,” Ransom said. “I enjoy working with the patrons, the book collections, and manuscripts. Most of our patrons that come in to use the library are doing their genealogy, a local history (two areas President Hayes was interested in) or history on their house.”

His favorite artifact is the Waggoner sword, which belonged to John Waggoner, who settled in the Fremont area after serving as a bodyguard to George Washington. The sword was displayed in a case in the library at one time.

In addition to working in the library, Ransom has helped plan events, such as the Frohman Summer Series: Hands-on History, genealogy classes and History Roundtable with Mike Gilbert. He also volunteers his time at Verandah Concerts and Christmas dinners in the Hayes Home.

Ransom earned a graduate degree from Case Western University and an undergraduate degree from Heidelberg University in history and American studies.

HPLM is a great place to work, Ransom said.

“Everyone works together well and pitches in whenever needed,” he said. “We pride ourselves as a friendly, helpful research facility and that will continue.”