Wednesday, April 17, 2013

National LIbrary Week - Library Stories

If you've ever read any of the author interviews I do here, you know I end them with, "Tell me a story about libraries." I've been working in public libraries for 40 years now. I started at my hometown library in Huron, Ohio, working as a page when I was sixteen. And, that quote about doing something you love and you'll never work a day in your life? Most of the time, it's true. I've loved my chosen career for most of those forty years.

So, I'll tell you some of my library stories, in honor of National Library Week. And, then, I'd love to hear some of yours. It's your turn to tell me library stories. Sort of, I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours.

My favorite memory of the Huron Public Library before I worked there? One summer, my parents house- and babysat for a family with boys much younger than me. And, they lived in a big old house down the street from the library. Every day, I walked to the library, checked out a stack of books, and went back to the house, laid on a hammock on the screened-in porch and read the afternoon away. Heaven!

If you came to Lesa's Book Critiques within the last three years, you might not know that I met and
married my late husband at the Huron Public Library. I had returned to my hometown as Library Director, and Jim was a patron, introduced to me by my children's librarian, Millie Schilman,  as "Jim Holstine, one of our most prolific readers." The staff tied paperback books to the bumper of our car. Jim later had a tee shirt that said, "I like libraries so much I married a librarian."

We were living in Glendale, Arizona, and Jim's beloved cat, Lammie, had recently died. One day, a litter of kittens was dropped off at our Main Library, wrapped in a Christmas box. Our director, Rodeane Widom, found the box. Those kittens were only five weeks old, too young to leave their mother. But, Rodeane and the library staff found homes for all of them except one. She was a feisty little thing that hollered all day. When Jim arrived, she clung to him, and from the moment he picked her up, Nikki was his. Nikki was our library cat. She's always been comfortable around books.

My library story wouldn't be complete without a thank you to all the staff members I worked with at the Huron Public Library, the Upper Arlington Public Library in Upper Arlington, Ohio, the Charlotte-Glades Library System in Port Charlotte, Florida, the Lee County Library System in Lee County, Florida, particularly at Captiva Memorial Library and the wonderful Rutenberg Branch Library, the Glendale Library System in Glendale, Arizona, especially my beloved Velma Teague Library staff, and the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library in Evansville, Indiana. It's been a pleasure to work with all of you, and I hope I have another ten years or so working in libraries. Thank you. And, a thank you to every author who appeared at a library for me. It's been a pleasure to host you there.

I could tell you all kinds of stories about the library, but, now, it's your turn. It's National Library Week. Do you have a library story to tell?


HollyJacobs said...

Lesa, Oh, what a lovely memory of your husband. And I love the pictures!

One of my favorite memories was about a special Children's Librarian here in Erie. Miss Kitty. My kids loved her enthusiasm as she read to them. She knew the books and rarely glanced at the book. Instead, she made eye contact with the kids and they all 'caught' her enthusiasm. That kind of love of of kids. Well, she's a very special lady.

Happy National Library Week! I spent Monday posting library quotes on FB. It gave me such glee. Libraries (and bookmobiles) gave me the world when I was young. And if they were my vehicle to imagination, then the librarians were absolutely my pilots!


Lesa said...

Holly - True to your word, you showed up to tell library stories. I'm so glad your kids had a wonderful children's librarian. I've worked with some wonderful children's librarians over the years, and they can have such an impact on a kid's life. Look how libraries & bookmobiles affected you. Would you be an author today without libraries?
Thank you, Holly!

Jane R said...

When I was very young I began going to story time at the library and always checked out an armful of books. As I got older, I took weekly trips to the library with my father (who read constantly). We continued this tradition even when I was in high school. Those times proved to be very precious, especially since he passed away at an early age.

A few years ago my hometown library celebrated several milestones while also beginning a major building campaign. The local newspaper invited readers to reminisce about their experiences and I was able to write an article about my dad and his influences. I'm sure he and the staff at my library are two of the reasons I became a librarian. For me, it has been the best possible choice.

Lesa said...

Oh, Jane. Thank you for sharing the story about your dad and the library. And, as a fellow librarian, I'm so glad it was the best possible choice for you as well.

HollyJacobs said...


Those books librarians introduced me to raised me. They taught me there were no limits. That made the dream of being a writer seem possible. So, yes, my career is really thanks to librarians and all the authors I grew up with!


Lesa said...

That's so wonderful to hear from an author, Holly. Thank you!

Beth Hoffman said...

I love that the staff tied paperbacks to the bumper of the car when you and Jim were married! And I didn't know until today how Nikki came into your life.

Here’s my library story: When I was a child the librarian handed me a pencil so I could sign my brand new card, and then she offered to help me pick out a book. I looked at the rows and rows of books and thought she must have read them all in order to be a librarian. I figured she was most likely one of the smartest people in the world. Suddenly I felt shy and tongue-tied, which in turn made me embarrassed. But she was kind and patient, and eventually we decided on a book. I will never forget her.

Lesa said...


It's just so important to have a kind, patient librarian introduce a child to the library. I love it that you thought she must have been one of the smartest people in the world! Of course, we are. (grin) We went into a profession where we could connect people and books, the two things we love.

CindyD said...

My father would take me with him to the Defiance, Ohio public library when we lived there. I remember that at that time they kept patron's library cards in a spinner rack at the checkout desk. My dad would lift me up to sit on the counter so I could find his card - I must have been three or four.
My favorite story from my days as a school librarian is trying to kick Senator Sherrod Brown out of the library because he didn't have a library pass - I didn't realize he was a substitute teacher, not a student! That was at Malabar High School in Mansfield, Ohio before he began his career in politics.

Lesa said...

Oh, that's funny, Cindy. I remember Sherrod Brown when he first started his political career, and he looked young even then. Love both those stories!

Rosemary said...

My earliest memory of a library comes from when I was maybe three or four; every Friday my mother & I would walk to the Bromley Public Library (it's in south London), where we would meet my father on his way home. I was allowed to sit in the children's library whilst my parents went into the adults' section to choose their books (no worries about child protection in those days...)

There were little wooden seats and book boxes; in those days you still had to be very quiet, but I didn't mind as all I wanted to do was look at the stock. It was here that I first discovered Josephine and Her Dolls, a series that was, even then, something of an antique - it was about a girl who lived in a flat in Knightsbridge and had her dolls sent round from Harrods! As you might imagine, my life was nothing like that - so my reading life started as it has tended to continue, with escapism.

The other thing I remember from those days is that all the books had a note at the front instructing us to inform the librarian if we had suffered from any infectious disease whilst the book was in our possession. This so fascinated me that I was over the moon with joy when I could report that I had finally had the chicken pox.

After we had chosen our books, we always used to walk home via Wilson's, a very old-fashioned coffee importers and bakery, where we bought bags of jam doughnuts half-price at the end of the day.

I've been to many, many libraries since then, and loved most of them, but I still have a special place in my heart for the Bromley Public Library.


Lesa said...

Oh, Rosemary! Your story of the library fascinated me. It's amazing how we remember with such detail the things that fascinated us. It sounds as if it was the combination of family and the library that made it special. I never heard about the infectious disease issue before. Congratulations on getting chicken pox! (smile) Thanks for sharing such a wonderful memory.

nfl jersey said...

Thank you for sharing the story about your dad and the library.

ckubala said...

When you asked for stories about library experiences all I can think of is the quote "There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them."

There are so many stories in our library lives and yet it's hard to capture their essence.

What I am reminded of on a constant basis is how a patron encounter which may seem ordinary can mean much more to that person. I have received many notes, often years later, of the impact something we have done, said, provided, has had on our patrons. Just this past December I received a note with a donation from a couple who moved to our community over 15 years ago. They had just moved in, were in their 70's, new in a second marriage and had just become the caretakers of their grandson. Little did I know how overwhelmed they felt. It was in their note that this woman thanked me for the help I provided way back then. Notes like these remind me the importance of my role as librarian in our community and what seems just the same ol' in our jobs can mean much to those we serve. I am so proud and fortunate to work in a library.