the library story

this is a placeholder for a longer thought/meditation/reminisce about libraries & librarians, inspired by “Liz Lawley”: who was inspired by this bit of “librarian-worship”: — much to say on this topic, even though I may not get back to it for a while.

in progress, may change later depending on time & inclination….

the house we moved into when I was seven, where my mother lives now, is about five blocks away from the only library in town. I learned to read when I was about four. so…I spent a lot of time at the library.

they had a summer reading club, which (IIRC) required 10 books to “win” — they had a felt board where you could pin up your name under how many books you’d read (weird…I can see that so clearly in my mind, but I haven’t thought about it in years). when I was 13, I read my 10 books in about two days, and the librarian suggested that perhaps I might be interested in volunteering. I spent the summer helping out the children’s librarians (two fulltime, two parttime) and the regular page, a girl of maybe 16, with shelving and such.

then she got into a rather nasty car accident (something to do with an RV, which she was driving) and they needed someone to fill the job. and I was there, and liked working there, and wow: it paid 4.25 an hour! so shortly after I turned 14, I started the job I had all through high school, as the page for the children’s section of the library. I worked there until about a week before I left for college.

my boss was a woman named Jackie (in what would become a weird trend), a very short black woman, funny and tough. scared me half to death I don’t know how many times sneaking up on me when I was reading a book instead of shelving it. she *hated* technology. we got an electronic catalog during my senior year, or maybe it was the summer after, and she just loathed the whole idea of the thing. Tina, the other full-timer, was a thin intense white woman, very lefty. I wish I could remember the names of the other two librarians, both were part-timers (again, IIRC) partially so they could spend more time with their respective kids.

there were three men who worked at the library: the janitor, the director, and a young guy who I think was an intern (grad student, I’d imagine). oh, and I think one of the adult services pages was a guy.

I had my first on-the-job injury at the library, when part of a bookshelf fell on my and I sprained my ankle. (again, the first in a weird trend.)

most of the librarians, including my boss, had known me since I was very young; a couple of the older adult librarians had seen me and my sisters and my mother (and I suppose dad, too), since I was a toddler.

that library was like a second home for me, even before I worked there. I was in a production of The Wizard of Oz (as Glenda!) there; I played my viola at a recital after it fell on the floor and the bridge nearly broke in half; we went to Friday afternoon movies and the book sale (every year); I went from Dr. Suess to Nancy Drew to Anne of Green Gables to E. Nesbit…I think I even read my first Anais Nin checked out of that library.

I still have dreams about being there.

I didn’t really even think about becoming a librarian though, except briefly towards the end of my college days. But I didn’t want to spend the money on the GREs, and I had a steady job and an apartment in Tacoma.

Strangely enough, I’ve been thinking about library school off and on over the last year or so. Something about the librarians and future librarians whose blogs I’ve read; something about coming back to organizing information, but through this amazing bizarre medium of the Web.

I don’t know if Jackie would be proud or appalled. (I should ask Mom if she’s still there….)