Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Libraries and Librarians: More Than Just Books

I could tell you tales about my aunt's years as head librarian at a respected and mid-size southern library that would make you think I'm a liar (no, I'm a fiction writer--there's a difference ;-).

Like the time she helped break up a brawl between two 40-something men who were throwing punches about photocopier usage.

Or the time the library was robbed of its overdue money and the main witness could only describe the man as "beige-y."

She was underpaid, overworked and yet, that library was her life and her love in many ways. She established a small local museum within that library (after moving the library from its original home in a basement--and greatly enlarged the collection--GREATLY).

And though she passed on a couple years ago, I'm happy to report that her spirit can be found in MANY libraries and their librarians.

I have proof.

Today a librarian (Starr) called my house with cool news. I'd expressed an interest in helping with the library's summer reading program or talking to kids or... really, whatever. You know me, I'm open to suggestions. I had been put in touch with her because I'd called a slightly more local library and that very helpful librarian (Marie) was happy to pass along several noteworthy contacts (she was excited for me since I mentioned my upcoming novels and absolute willingness to pitch in however I could).

After talking to Starr I was TOTALLY invigorated. She was psyched about getting to read my book (and so she shall!), she was thrilled to mention other things in the local area I could get involved in and because of her my weekend plans have changed. Because of her I'll be checking out The Empire State Book Festival in Albany, NY on Saturday (an event I didn't even know existed).

She also mentioned Stephanie of the Fairport Library and the Teen Book Festival in Rochester which has grown to be quite impressive in five short years. Again, I'd somehow overlooked this! But I'm much more educated simply by having a discussion with Starr.

I guess my point with this post (yes, there is one ;-) is that I wonder how often we just think of libraries as built on books when really they're built on the backs of people--inspired public servants--who share their passion as much as their expertise.

Think about those libraries and those librarians--have you thanked a librarian recently?

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