Welcome back to our summer series of Origin Stories.
Reading the Origin Stories posted this summer I notice that we all have a lot in common regarding love of reading, teaching, sharing, and well, reading! My origin story fits right in with those themes.
When I was in elementary school the children’s librarian at my public library introduced me to Ramona Quimby and I became a reader for life. Ramona spoke to me. After that I read everything that Mrs. Neth gave me except for The Yearling (that cover looked SO boring!), and I gave recommendations to all my friends. My BFF Shawna and I acted out Frog and Toad stories on our patio. I set my alarm clock so I could read before school and I pretended that I was scared of the dark so my Mom would leave the hallway light on and then I could sneakily read late at night. I read in the car, at church, and I always brought a book to sleepovers because I would usually wake up before everyone else and needed something to do. My Dad let me check out as many books as I wanted every week as long as I checked out two biographies from the Childhood of Famous Americans series. The phrase ‘born to read’ defines my childhood.
My family moved three times while I was in middle and high school. During those years reading got me through times when I hadn’t made many friends and it provided an avenue for making friends. Like many students, my independent reading took a dip in high school because of all the required reading. My favorite assigned books were A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens and Night by Wiesel. That doesn’t mean I didn’t find time to read my share of juicy teen romances.
Fast-forward to college. I started as an education major but those darn early morning classes conflicted with my social life. I switched majors to study what I really loved, French language and literature. My parents were supportive but always said, “You need a skill.” I continued taking classes in French literature, sociology, religious studies, history, dance, and so many other things. You have to love a liberal arts education! In my junior year I secured a coveted job at the college library. Wow. I was perhaps the only student who looked forward to my shifts at the library shelving or shifting books and circulating materials. Then I learned that being a librarian is a job that requires a Masters Degree. This was news to me and news I was very excited about. When the librarians noticed that I enjoyed my job, they suggested an Independent Study in the College Archives and at the Reference Desk. In the Archives I organized and cataloged (with a lot of help) papers from a local family’s attic collection of historical documents. For the Reference Department I did surveys with students about using the then new online databases and wrote guides to help students through the murky waters of online searching. My best friend remembers that at the end of the all-nighter when I was writing my analysis of the Library Independent Study experience, that I was crying tears of joy about the importance of libraries in the lives of ordinary people. Yes, it was a long night, but that idea is one that continues to motivate me today.
When it came time to apply to graduate school, I was determined that it would be in Boston. That is where my college mentor had gone and I wanted to follow in her footsteps at Simmons College. I shed tears of joy when I was accepted into their Graduate School of Library and Information Science. My parents were so thrilled that I had decided to go back to school and “get a skill” that they may have shed tears of their own.
Towards the end of graduate school I had my sights set on moving to Colorado and working with children. I was hired at a public library just outside of Denver and worked there for 10 years as a Children’s and Teen Services Librarian. Almost five years ago now I started at Colorado Academy as the Lower School Librarian. While there are things that I miss about the public library (mostly the element of crazy) there are things I love about being in a school. Being the Lower School librarian is a wonderful adventure every day. I enjoy seeing the kids grow from year-to-year, collaborating with teachers, being a part of the school community, and participating on AISL.
At Colorado Academy our Lower School library mascots are a stuffed animal dog named Ramona Quimby and a pet rock named Henry Huggins. Thank you Mrs. Neth, Beverly Cleary, and many others for inspiring me as a reader and now as a librarian.