Today, I’m joining in on Kym‘s fantastic blog trend, the Museum of Me. Now, these posts are technically supposed to go up on the 2nd Friday of the month. But. Eye Candy Friday is a long standing tradition here at Carole Knits and I’m not changing that so, instead, I will share my museum exhibits on the 2nd Monday of the month. Now that the housekeeping stuff is out of the way . . . on to this month’s exhibit: a job I had early in life.
It’s no secret to anyone who has been around here for a bit that I’ve wanted to be a librarian since I was in 5th grade. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that my first paying job (other than babysitting) was at the Brockton Public Library. I got that job when I was 16 and, truth be told, I probably got it because my godmother was on the Board of Library Trustees. I remember feeling weird about that and thinking it wasn’t fair that I got special treatment. And I also remember my mother very smartly pointing out to me that, while sometimes it takes luck to get a job, when it comes to keeping a job it’s a completely different story. That’s a lesson I carry with me to this day and I’m so glad my mom helped me put that aspect of securing a job into perspective.
When I was first hired, I worked at the downtown branch of the library, and my job was to shelve books and also retrieve books from the stacks. You see, in those days, Brockton had closed stacks for nonfiction, so anyone who wanted to see those books had to request them on a slip of paper and then one of us (we were called library pages) would get the books and bring them out. The library was a Carnegie building and there were 3 stories of floors in the stacks and they were glass. The glass was slightly frosted and very practical because it allowed the light to shine through and make the dark stacks brighter. There were usually 2 of us per shift and we spent a lot of time running up and down those stairs and in and out of the stacks. Sometimes it was frustrating to bring out 10 books only to have the patron reject them all and ask for 10 more but, to me at least, it was all so interesting and I loved it. There were also a lot of quiet nooks to hide out when it wasn’t busy, but don’t tell anyone!
Even though I primarily worked at the main branch, on Saturdays I rotated through the 4 small branches in the city. This made for a great change of scenery and it improved my library skills, too, because when I was at the branches I worked at the circulation desk. I loved checking out books to the patrons, seeing what everyone was reading, and just generally being involved with the hubbub of the library on a Saturday. I was happiest when I got to work at the West Side branch because that was the branch I went to with my mom when I was a kid. Eventually, a job opened up there and I was able to work there exclusively. That felt like a dream come true because I not only could walk there after school, but I was also working with my favorite librarians – including the one who first told me, back in 5th grade, that librarians knew how to find all the answers.
I stayed at the library for two years, until I went off to college. This happened to coincide with some cuts in the city’s budget and, unfortunately, I was not able to go back to work there when I was home in the summers. That was okay, though, because I got a job at City Hall working in the Mayor’s Office. In hindsight, that was my first foray into politics and, while it wasn’t the same as being at the library, it was still a great experience. Looking back, I can see that I was clearly always destined for a career in the public sector!
And that’s the story of this exhibit and the start of my life long dream of being a librarian. Thanks for visiting the Museum of Me this month!
What fun stories, Carole! I think it would be hard to work at a library . . . because of the constant temptation to open the books and just start reading! 😉 (And, of course, there are no “rules” for the Museum of Me. Exhibits are “open” at whatever hours you choose. I’ll be looking forward to visiting your exhibits on Monday mornings!) XO
Oh I enjoyed reading this Carole. Those two early jobs (library and mayor’s office) definitely seem like they were made for you! I had never heard of closed stacks before! I don’t think my library growing up had any, and certainly not my library today.
This sounds like it was such an amazing first job! I have no doubt that your first experience played a huge role in your current career.
I can’t imagine you working anywhere other than a library, so I’m glad your dream came true! It seems your mother’s wise words were true; you’ve kept your library job(s) for a long, long time!
I am with Kym… it would be so hard to work at a library, the temptation to read.all.the.things! 🙂
Mary K. in Rockport says
Great post! My childhood library in Wakefield MA was huge and very inviting. It also had those frosted glass floors in the “restricted” section on the 2nd floor; I felt uneasy stepping out on those. What was their purpose, I wonder?
What a wonderful job history, Carole. I am impressed that you were able to find such great jobs at an early age. I am sure it helped determine your career trajectory, but it seems you have been determining your fate in jobs for a long time. Again, I am impressed!
I had an after-school job at our library — also a Carnegie Library — which was located right across the street from my high school. I shelved a lot of books, too. My favorite section was/is BIOGRAPHY and I’d give every single one of those books a good look before putting them back on the shelf! 🙂
Your earliest roles–a total foreshadowing! (Thank God mine were not.) And such wisdom from your mom…
Margene Smith says
You have one of the best careers. So many of my friends are (or were) librarians. Some of my best memories are of libraries. Mom took us every week, no matter how many kids she had to wrangle. We each got 10 books so she could count to make sure all the books were there. I also loved the book mobile that came to my school and sometimes my neighborhood. Plus, the schools had great libraries back then! Having books at my fingers tips no matter what age I was is what made me a reader. Librarians rule!
This is so great Carole. A career I sadly missed – my mom told me I should be a librarian! (And aren’t moms right?) Your Carnegie reference had me looking. WInchendon got a $12,500 grant from Carnegie in the early 1900’s. Asked for $25k and he wouldn’t increase the request. A family named Beals eventually gave a larger donation – hence The Beals Memorial library here. But he was certainly tithe man wasn’t he!
What a fascinating story – thank you for sharing!