The Librarians and One Reader

1. My first public library librarian in St. Paul, Minnesota handed me A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and whenever I went back to the library, I would start by finding that book on the shelf, my familiar cornerstone.

Two people study near windows at the Uconn Library.

The UConn Library

2. When my middle school librarian urged me to browse, I discovered two things: George MacDonald’s The Light Princess and that I could find good books myself.

3. My high school librarian showed me how to use the subject, author, and title sections of the card catalog and the Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature. She smiled at me every single time I came in and let me nap on the rug between the fiction shelves.

4. When I came new to my town with two little kids and a third on the way, the children’s librarian at the public library had a weekly story hour that fed my soul. She gave me a place where my kids were welcome, entertained us with voices and brilliantly illustrated stories, and sent us home with piles of knight books.

5. The school librarian where I taught high school English added a new column on her sign-up sheet so I could reserve the big blue chairs for my students. She ordered shelves of manga and quietly repurchased the coveted books on sexuality that kept walking. It frightens me to think how much of her own money went to our collection.

6. When I was forming a book group with my new neighbor, I invited the retired children’s librarian, the same one who once read to my kids at story hour, to be a founding member, and now I’m able to swap book ideas with my dear friend every month.

7. This weekend I’m off to ALA in Las Vegas, where I’ll have the chance to meet a few librarians. It goes without saying that they’ll be knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and generous. What they may not know is that the past kindnesses of previous librarians predispose me already to be grateful to them.

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