April 12-18 is National Library Week this year. It seems a good time to write my long-overdue love letter to librarians.
First, thank you for helping my mother and father become readers. Second, thank you for helping me discover the power of words. My parents and older sisters read to me from the time I was a baby, and many of our books were library books. I recall my first local library at Fort Richardson (now JBER), Alaska. The children’s books section was to the right of the main door, and I loved scanning the shelves and choosing books to take home. The librarian often recommended books once she saw what my tastes were. And when I grew old enough, the entire library was at my reach. When I was done with my browsing and waiting for my family members to choose their books, I would often go see the huge Earth and constellations globes, just another reminder that there was a whole universe to explore out there. Wow.
At school, my mother volunteered at the library so I got to know the librarians there more than most kids, some long enough to remember their names. Molly Bynum at Ursa Minor Elementary and Kelly Christenson, Leah Hoffman, Carol Pryor, and Virginia Rehder at Bartlett-Begich Junior-Senior High School gave me tons of books and a safe place to be when I needed it. In high school, the library was my hangout before school. A bunch of us nerdy girls talked and read at our regular table every day. And Leah Hoffman became my mentor in stage makeup class and beyond. Her kind words and easy laugh are still a comfort to me.
When I became an English teacher, I often found the librarian to be a kindred spirit. They all helped me and my students with many book recommendations and research presentations. Some of my teaching friends later became librarians, and one, Jim Curran, is now the teen librarian at my local library. I enjoy watching him interact with the teens and have had the opportunity to work with him on a couple projects. And another local librarian, Charlotte Pendleton, has been invaluable arranging author events.
For every librarian I have named, there are a handful I didn’t. And for every librarian I’ve known, there are thousands I don’t know. All of you help young people and old, rich and poor, find solace and adventure and themselves in books. You provide other services too, enriching our lives in so many ways. Thanks for all you’ve done and will do. I love you. Happy National Library Week.