As librarians go, I’m fairly unique. You see, most librarians don’t set out to become librarians. It’s usually a mid-life career choice or something that someone sort of backs into, if you will. But not me. I’ve known I wanted to be a librarian since I was in the 4th grade.
This is a photograph of the branch library I grew up visiting. I went with my mom once a week and we picked out books together. I remember practicing writing my name so I could get my own card. I was so proud the day I marched up to the Circulation Desk and wrote my name on my first library card. I also remember the first time I was allowed to browse in the Children’s Department on my own while my mom looked for her books in the adult section. I felt like such a grown up! There was a whole world to explore in that tiny branch library and I wanted to soak up every part of it.
The branch librarian was Miss Keane and her assistant was Mrs. Berger and they were a fantastic combination. Miss Keane was friendly and fun and Mrs. Berger was rather abrupt and gruff. Sort of like good cop/bad cop for librarians. Anyway, without meaning for it to happen, Miss Keane became my inspiration. This one day I was at the library and I asked her a question. I don’t remember what the question was but I clearly remember that Miss Keane knew the answer. And I said to her, “Miss Keane, you’re so smart. You must know everything because you always know the answers to my questions.” And she said, “Oh no, Carole. I’m not especially smart, I’m a librarian. And, while librarians don’t know all the answers, they do know where to find all the answers.” Ah ha. Light bulb moment. I knew in that instant that I wanted to be a librarian and I wanted to spend my life helping people find the answers to their questions.
Fast forward another 7 years and I wound up working with Miss Keane at this branch library. I told her the story of why I wanted to be a librarian and she was utterly surprised to know that she had been my inspiration. She was also very, very proud of having nurtured a budding librarian. I worked at this library, with Miss Keane and Mrs. Berger, until I went off to college.
I have worked in a library of one sort or another for 25 years and I have devoted my professional life to being a librarian. I have done everything from shelving books to secretarial work to checking out books for library patrons. Of course, the reality of what I do now is somewhat different than my childhood dream. As a Library Director I spend most of my time on administrative functions like staffing and budgets. But, every now and again I get the chance to work with the public. And there’s really nothing better than being at the Circulation Desk or the Reference Desk and succesfully answering someone’s question. It reminds me of why I became a librarian in the first place. And it reminds me of Miss Keane and Mrs. Berger, too.