My Dad and the Library

National Library Week is April 9-15, 2017. To celebrate, I’d like to share a special story.

My dad wasn’t a reader.

I don’t mean he couldn’t read. He just didn’t read for pleasure. He read for information, to gain knowledge, to figure out how to do something. As far as I know, he never once borrowed a book from any library.

And yet he understood my love of books and the library. From the time I learned to read, I hungered for new books. I would bring home the little Scholastic book pamphlets from school and pour over them, checking off all the books I wanted and confidently handing them to him. He never said no, no matter how tight the budget was.

Then we moved to a lovely little town called Cheshire and I discovered the Cheshire Public Library.

I was nine years old. I couldn’t go to the library unless someone drove me. And there was Dad, driving me to the library after he got out of work, dropping me off while he ran to the store to pick up a few things, waiting in the parking lot while I scanned the shelves looking for a Nancy Drew that I hadn’t read yet. Like the Scholastic book pamphlets, he never said no when I asked to go to the library.

He almost never came inside. He told me I was responsible for keeping track of the books I borrowed and when they were due. He was responsible for getting me to the library so I could borrow and return materials.

Then came one cold night in October when I was twelve years old. Dad was waiting in the library parking lot for me while I selected some books. When I got back to the car, he was shaking. He told me he couldn’t seem to get warm. The next day he suffered his first stroke. He was thirty-nine.

He recovered, but it was six weeks before we could return to the library. I was apprehensive. For the first time in my life I had overdue library books. I had a little babysitting money but I had no idea how much I owed. I was truly afraid they wouldn’t let me borrow any more books.

To my surprise, my dad came into the library with me. He handed the overdue books to the librarian, took out his wallet and said, “I was sick and couldn’t bring these back.” He smiled at me. “It wasn’t her fault.”

The librarian asked what had happened and he told her about his stroke. She asked us to wait and vanished into a back room. She returned with a  smile.

“No charge,” she said. “The library has a heart.”

That was a big deal. My dad was now unemployed because of his health. We didn’t have a lot of spare money.

My father walked out of the library that day smiling. He said, “There are still good people in the world.”

I had already decided I wanted to be a librarian. I couldn’t imagine a career that didn’t somehow involve books. But that librarian’s kindness made me realize what a difference a librarian could make in someone’s day.

Three years later, I was hired as a library page at the Cheshire Library. The librarian who had been so kind to us was no longer there. I never even knew her name, and she never knew how much her action meant to me.

We all make a difference each day, even if we don’t know it.

In honor of National Library Week and the librarian who made a young girl happy a long time ago, here are some of my favorite children’s books about libraries and librarians:

lion-aspxThe Library Lion by Michele Knudsen.
A lion starts visiting the local library but runs into trouble as he tries to both obey the rules and help his librarian friend.

 

 

jacket-aspx The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter.
When war comes, Alia Muhammad Baker, the librarian of Basra, fears the library will be destroyed, so she asks government officials for help, but they refuse, which means Alia must take matters into her own hands to protect the books that she loves.

jacket-aspxLibrary Lil by Suzanne Williams. Illustrated by Steven Kellogg.
A formidable librarian makes readers not only out of the once resistant residents of her small town, but out of a tough-talking, television-watching motorcycle gang as well.

 

 

jacket-aspxMrs. Roopy is Loopy by Dan Gutman.
A.J. and his classmates are convinced that the new school librarian, Mrs. Roopy, has multiple personality disorder because she keeps pretending to be famous people.

 

 

jacket-aspxThe Library by Sarah Stewart.
Elizabeth Brown loves to read more than anything else, but when her collection of books grows and grows, she must make a change in her life.

At the Library: Puppy Love

Once upon a tdogime (just a few months ago on a Saturday, actually) a family came in to the Cheshire Public Library to use the library’s computers. They wanted to fill out an application to adopt a dog from a rescue shelter in North Carolina.

The family (dad, mom, son, and daughter) was excited about adopting this dog. They showed his picture, which included his name, to Cara, the librarian on duty. She agreed the dog was a cutie.

It was near closing time, and the application was a long one. The family needed to provide a lot of information and had to make a few calls to get names and phone numbers for references. Cara tried to disable the computer reserve system, which automatically shuts off all computers at closing. To her dismay, the computer shut off before the application was submitted.

“Did we get the dog?’ the little girl asked excitedly.

She did not realize they had just lost all their information. The application had to be submitted by 5:00PM on that same day. The family did not have a working computer at home.

The library was closing so the family left knowing they missed the application deadline.

Feeling bad about what had happened, Cara returned to her computer, found the website, and after some searching located the dog the family wanted to adopt. She sent an email to the animal shelter, explaining what had happened, describing how the entire family had come in together to fill out the application and how much they wanted the dog. She asked the shelter to not make any decisions until Monday when the family could return and use the library’s computers to submit an application.

She thought about the family and their dog for the rest of the weekend. She never expected to hear back from the shelter.

But hear back she did. The woman from the shelter who responded to her email was impressed that she had taken the time to contact them about the family and was delighted that the entire family had been so involved with the application process. She agreed to wait for the application.

In the meantime, the family found a friend with a computer and submitted their application that weekend.

A few days later, the family returned with flowers for Cara. The shelter had told them what she had done for them. In addition, the shelter said that her description of their family and their excitement for owning the dog, plus the fact that Cara had thought highly enough of the family to send the first email, were the best recommendations that they could have had. The shelter knew, the woman told them, that they were sending the dog to a good home.

So a rescue dog has a new family and a family has a new pet to love.

Librarians can make a difference in your life.

If you’d like to learn more about adopting a dog, try our non-fiction shelves under 636.7!

At the Library: Books and Bunnies

If someone asks me what I do as a librarian, I know just what to say. I get to hold bunnies.

Tika the GeckoTo be specific, I held a lovely bunny named Milkshake. He and his brother Truffle were visiting the library as part of Story Stars, a program from Teaching Creatures. Rae, the presenter, read two stories to the kids, one about a bunny and another about a gecko. Milkshake and Truffle then made their appearance along with Tika, the leopard gecko.

Tika was small and spotted and not afraid of the crowd at all. She crawled happily over Rae’s hands and then delighted everyone by eating a snack of live mealworms.

Truffle the BunnyMilkshake and Truffle hopped around on a small tarp in the center of a circle of young children. I did my best to take pictures and learned that the phrase “quick like a bunny” is not just a myth. I have several nicely blurred images of two rabbits scooting across the floor. I did, as you can see, manage to get one nice shot of Truffle.

But then came the highlight of the program. Rae picked up Truffle to let each child have a chance to pet him. I got to pick up Milkshake.

I had never held a rabbit before. I had seen rabbits, petted them, and looked up information about them, but never got to hold one. He was soft and warm and surprisingly solid in my arms, just like a newborn baby.

I am a librarian. I provide information. I can navigate online databases. I am a social media maven. And I get to hold bunnies.

 

To take a look at upcoming programs at the Cheshire Public Library, check out our Calendar of Events.