Wednesday, April 16, 2008

National Library Week, One Librarian's Journey

On April 12, Barbara Fister asked on Moments in Crime, "Why do you read?" I answered, "It's in my blood."

Since this is National Library Week, it's a good time to answer the question, "Why are you a librarian?" I could answer the same way, "It's in my blood." It's true. My great-aunt worked in a high school library. My mother worked in a vocational school library, and to this day, she volunteers at the library at the Catholic school we all attended.

My parents always took us to the public library. One of the highlights of my childhood was the week my parents house sat down the street from the library, and I could walk there every day. I'd pick out a stack of books, and go back to spend the afternoon in a hammock on the screened in porch. When I was sixteen, my locker partner quit her job as a page at the public library. When I told her I'd love to have that job, she passed on that comment, and the library director, Mrs. Dunn, called me and offered me the job. I worked six days a week with some of the best librarians I've ever worked with. To this day, I credit Erma Dunn, Aileen Hartley and Millie Schilman for my library background. My goal when I went to college was to return as Director of the Huron Public Library. In the meantime, both of my sisters worked as pages at the library.

I went to college at Kent State University, did student teaching in the library of Valley Forge High School under Thelma Knerr, and spent six months as the high school librarian at Garfield Heights High School. But, I wanted that MLS so I could work in public libraries, so I went to Catholic University of America.

Upon graduation, I worked in public relations/programming at the Upper Arlington Public Library outside Columbus, Ohio. One year later, I had my dream job. I returned home to be Director of the Huron Public Library (which didn't look then like its current picture.)

After marrying Jim, who I met and married in the library at Huron, we moved to Florida, where I worked first in Charlotte County, and then in Lee County. I had some wonderful island years, as the branch manager on Captiva Island. From Captiva, I moved to the Rutenberg Branch Library, a small library in a park, but the second busiest library in the Lee County System. I spent almost ten years there, but when the library was to be closed, I moved to Arizona.

Today, I'm the manager of the Velma Teague Library in Glendale, AZ. What do all of
these libraries have in common? The small ones, Huron, Captiva, Rutenberg and Velma Teague, were small buildings with wonderful, caring staff. The staff in each of these places cared deeply for the people of their communities, and, in every case, tried to provide outstanding service, and outstanding collections to the people.

I love libraries. I share that love with a great aunt, my mother, my sisters, the husband I met at the library, and the wonderful people I've worked with, and for, over thirty-five years. I have a nephew who volunteers at his public library, and nieces and nephews who have used the libraries since they were babies. It's in our blood.

It's National Library Week. What's your library story?


Barbara said...

I would love to see your wedding album! Married in a library!!

I talked about "why I'm a librarian" over at Free Exchange on Campus a while ago - but it's not as much fun as your story.

You can find some answers to the meme in Google but yes, this is a good week for more!

Anonymous said...

All I know is that working in a library is the best job I've ever had. I feel like I've finally come home and I've only done this for just over a year and a half. Of course, I volunteered in many libraries over the course of my life starting as a library aide in my junior high school. Volunteering many hours in my daughter's elementary school library and then in the Beaverton Public Library in Beaverton, Oregon. Moved on to the Round Rock Public Library in my area here. I now work for the Austin Public Library. I go to work every day thinking, "They pay me for this!?!". LOL

Lesa said...

Barbara - There are not too many pictures actually of the wedding. We were married in the meeting room, but my staff did tie paperback books to the back of my car!

Lesa said...


Isn't it just the best job in the world? I can't imagine doing anything else.