Library Angels

ALICE—I became a librarian in 1957. Thank you for your recent column about librarians. Being a librarian is not a job, it’s a calling.

WENDY—I earned my masters in library science in 1970 and got my first job. There was a little girl who came to our branch every day at the same time. She would read exactly the same book, and she did this for months. She never checked the book out, she only read the same few pages every day. We all wondered what she was doing.

One day I asked her why she came in to read the same pages over and over. She told me she was teaching herself how to read by memorizing pages of the book so she could recite them to herself for practice. I told her she could take the book with her and keep it with her all the time, but she said she’d rather memorize.

Then the girl recited the first chapter to me, letter by letter. I knew I was dealing with a gifted child.

I was able to get her tested academically and she was accepted into a school for advanced students. I don’t know what happened to her, but I think about her all the time. Thanks.

BILL—My wife was an academic librarian for 22 years. She is on hospice. Thank you for your writing.

MISTY—My dad went to libraries all his life, he always kept a stack of books by his bed. He taught himself Spanish by reading a book from Stanislaus County Library, just so he could communicate with his Spanish-speaking coworkers and make friends with them.

When his friends asked how he learned Spanish so well they were all shocked when he told them the library. This brought him into all kinds of homes and situations, helping Latinos in need. He credited God and the library for everything. I miss him so much.

EMILIO—I was 19 years old and bought a 1969 MGB I wanted to restore, and I literally knew nothing about cars. My brother was a talented mechanic, he could bring any engine back to life, just like my dad could do.

My brother died in a car accident before we loosened the first bolt on the MGB.

I promised my brother in a prayer that I would restore the car for him, so that same night I went to the library and found a Haynes auto repair manual. I took my car apart piece by piece, with no [bleeping] idea what I was doing. I brought it back to life. That car has been entered in car shows from coast to coast.

DANIEL—I am in college to become a librarian. This column was confirmation that I’m doing the right thing with my life.

BRENDA—I read your story about librarians and wanted to tell you that I dropped out of school just like you did, Sean. I quit in the eighth grade when my mom killed herself, and nobody even tried to stop me from dropping out. It just wasn’t a big deal to my dad back in those days (I am 63).

Eventually I decided to get my GED. Then I went to get my degree in English. Currently I help others prep for GED exams, and I still spend a lot of time in libraries, helping students who need extra attention. It’s a hard test.

MARIE—Thank you for writing what you did about librarians. My mother was a librarian and she had so many stories about people she helped over the years.

REGINA—I was a librarian for 39 years when I finally decided to retire. My favorite thing about being a librarian was the look on someone’s face when you showed them something new, a skill they would be able to use for the rest of their life.

I taught kids to read, I taught adults to read, I taught rural patrons how to use internet search engines for the first time, and taught out-of-work single mothers how to search classifieds on the Internet.

I showed people how to enroll in college online, and I showed grandparents how to send emails. I once showed an old man how to access photos on his cell phone so he could see a picture of his newborn grandchild, and he cried right in front of me.

ANONYMOUS— I learned how to read by listening to audio books and following along in the paperback versions. My librarian taught me how to do that.

I was abused at home, often I frequented my local library with bloody lips and busted noses, but she was one of the only people who showed me love. I was failing school because of illiteracy. I hung out at the library because it was safe.

My librarian would find audio books for any book I wanted to read, even hard-to-find books. I later found out that she was buying these cassette-tape books with her own money and donating them to the library.

She is gone now from breast cancer, but she was a very cool lady and she set off a ripple effect in my life. So thanks for the story.

ME—A wise person once told me that being a librarian is not a job. It’s a calling.


  1. Susan Gailes - March 26, 2022 6:15 am

    My mother taught us to love libraries and the librarians. When I was very little I thought the library was magic. I now know magic does happen there.

  2. Debbie McCann - March 26, 2022 7:08 am

    Sean, you write from a heart filled with love. You are a beautiful person. Blessings always.

  3. Sally Johnson - March 26, 2022 9:33 am

    Thank you for sharing the follow up to your previous post.

  4. Judith Brook - March 26, 2022 10:35 am

    Thank you, Sean.

  5. Debbie - March 26, 2022 11:32 am

    Oh I love walking into a library. All the possibilities and magic is there.

  6. Susan - March 26, 2022 11:44 am

    Love the title for your blog today❤️ These replies from librarians and about them just make me smile. Thank you, once again, for giving me a great start to my day!

  7. Library Lover - March 26, 2022 12:00 pm

    Libraries are magical places where the smell of the books, the quiet calm takes you wherever you want to go. A library takes you places you hadn’t imagined before. The Librarian is the captain of that ship. Great article!

  8. Linda Thacker - March 26, 2022 12:01 pm

    Thank you for posting these replies. At age 74, I still go to the library about every 3 weeks. I love the librarians who willingly listen to my summaries of books that I love. They offer other suggestions, too.

  9. Joann - March 26, 2022 12:04 pm


  10. Lisa K Riley - March 26, 2022 12:17 pm

    I was introduced to the library at age 3. My mom is a voracious reader, but money was(is) tight. So the library became our haven. I learned to read very early, and Mom, my sister and I (and my brother when he was born) made trips to the library weekly. The smell of the books, wandering the rows, looking in the card catalog….it was heaven. I was able to use those skills to get my first three college degrees before things were computerized. Librarians were the angels who helped find the rare editions I needed for papers, who scoured the stacks with me, who said, “Did you think about…?” as I tried to gather information. Thank you, Sean for highlighting this extremely important and often overlooked position!

  11. Elaine Walizer - March 26, 2022 12:42 pm

    I know you get SO many comments, emails, letters, and so on, but I hope you will read my comment back on your Librarian post. I shared it with my sweet neighbor (retired from school librarian post) and she got teary-eyed over it. Just so you know….

  12. Linda - March 26, 2022 12:43 pm

    I used to read “Tomas and the Library Lady” to my students every year. If you haven’t read it, it’s a MUST. Thank you, Sean!

  13. Teri Easterling - March 26, 2022 12:50 pm

    Love this, libraries, and librarians! 💖📙📘📗📙📚💝

  14. Donna George-Moskovitz - March 26, 2022 1:01 pm

    You have no idea what a ripple effect you have had on my life. I started reading your stories late summer 2021. I was fortunate to be able to drive seven hours to Milton, FL on December 2 just to maybe hear a book talk. Big time ripples from that experience.

    There is a brass plate on the 177th step of the Pensacola Lighthouse in memory of my baby sister. She has been gone four years and four days. I’m almost able to look at her pictures again without crying. Still can’t look into her photographed eyes.

    I once read, on Facebook, “I love when people that have been through hell walk out of the flames carrying buckets of water to others still consumed by the fire.”

    Well, Sean. I just took an early retirement from teaching. Too distracted from wanting to spend time with loved ones that are still here. Certified teacher. Certified reading specialist. Well-read. My credentials say you are an excellent writer. But, Sean. We love your writing because you are bringing us buckets of water to save us. And…we can smell the smoke on you. God bless you, Sean Dietrich! What you are doing with your life truly matters. If helping others brings joy, then Sean, you must be full up with it. I have purposed in my heart to pray for you and Jamie daily.

    All this to say thank you.

    • Jmom - March 26, 2022 1:27 pm

      “And we can smell the smoke on you.” So true!

  15. Shari Burnham - March 26, 2022 1:12 pm

    My love affair with libraries started when I was five. My mom took me every week to check out 10 new books, the maximum that was allowed. The Library Book by Susan Orlean, which was published in 2018 and is about the 1986 fire at the Los Angeles Central Public Library, is a masterful story about the essential role of the library and how it has changed over the years. I highly recommend it. The frosting on the cake is the mystery behind the fire, which was deliberately set.

  16. Rita Weber - March 26, 2022 1:47 pm

    Profiting from a life long addiction to libraries and books, I loved this column, and sent it to my local library director and good friend to enjoy and share with the library angels who work with her at the Patrick Heath Public Library in Boerne, Texas.

  17. Gayle Wilson - March 26, 2022 1:48 pm

    Sean, what beautiful testimonies to the power of the printed word and the angels who impart the love of the printed word to others.
    I spent many days walking to the local library near my house to escape the less than happy life that was in my home. Several years ago I was in the area of the library and my childhood home. When I went by the library I felt such warmth in my heart. Not so much when I passed my childhood home.

  18. Katie, #StandWithUkraine черту Путина (@PaineSister) - March 26, 2022 2:01 pm

    To add to the comments: Love of books is in my genes, I think. One of my favorite people in the world was my uncle, who I remember got down on his hands and knees and played with my brother and I. He ended up curator of books at the University of Michigan’s William L. Clements Americana Library. Along with my parents he taught me to respect and love books. I was so very proud of him and my aunt who was also a librarian. Thank you for your column on these wonderful people.

  19. Erin Weaver - March 26, 2022 2:10 pm

    Dear Sean,
    I grew up in the small town in Central Iowa. I went to the library every day it was open. The librarian was a task-master….I had to read every book in the children’s section before I could move up to the YA literature…or even look at the adult books. Get this….she’d talk to me about every book I checked out! She’d ask about the characters, or the plot, or the nouns, or the setting, or the title, or the author….that lady was full of questions. AND then she started recommending books….holy moly! She knew all of the good books. “The Bobbsey Twins”– it seemed like there were 50 of those books– my speed and accuracy were increased. “The Happy Hollisters”– more speed, more plot, more accuracy. More questions! More books!

    Now, you might think that the library was vast….it was a room in the town hall. It was a sacred place for me growing up. I swear, that librarian taught me so much reading comprehension– and she fostered a true love of literature.

    Librarians are angels on earth!

  20. Susan - March 26, 2022 2:27 pm

    My daughter spent 20 years teaching social studies and during that time studied to become a librarian. She’s now the library media specialist at our high school. I have no doubt her love of books came from my mom who always told her “books are your friends” and “if you can read, you can do anything”.

  21. Christina Baxter - March 26, 2022 2:35 pm

    Thank you for breaking my heart, and filling it, all at once.

  22. Jan - March 26, 2022 3:50 pm

    Awesome! Love books and love librarians!

  23. Susan W Fitch - March 26, 2022 3:53 pm

    Love the affirmation of the calling vs a career!

  24. Linda H - March 26, 2022 4:17 pm

    I grew up in an unincorporated area where we didn’t have a library … it was before libraries had sharing privileges. The library closest to our school was in an old house that someone had donated to be the library. There was room after room with bookshelves and books. We had to write papers but since we didn’t have a library card, we couldn’t take the books out of the building/house. On occasion I would tuck a much-needed book into my pile of schoolbooks and take it home to finish my assignment. I would ALWAYS return the book as quickly as I could. Many years later I met the librarian from that library and “confessed” to her that I would take the books out but always returned it. She smiled and said that she knew we needed the book, that we were taking it out for a while and that we would always return it. She said we had a “need” and how could she not help us because we lacked a “card”.

  25. Lyn Cogswell - March 26, 2022 5:05 pm

    My mom grew up during the depression in a single parent home with an abusive, alcoholic mother. The library was her safe place throughout her childhood, and the librarian knew Mom well. Her interest in my mother encouraged her love of books and learning in general. Although Mom dropped out of high school at 16 to marry Dad, she eventually got her GED and at 50 earned her college degree in social work. The constant throughout her life was the public library. She passed on her love of books, libraries, and learning to all six of her children. When my oldest brother was born, Mom sought wisdom on how to raise him (and all of us who followed after) by searching the library shelves. She found a jewel of a book by Dr. Dorothy Baruch titled New Ways in Discipline. Baruch pioneered a child development approach that focused on the relationship between physical, emotional, and intellectual development, and in following Baruch’s guide, Mom changed the trajectory of her relationship with her children in an infinitely more healthy direction than her own childhood experience. That book was a lifesaver for my scared, overwhelmed young mother, Anita Gaston. Libraries are holy ground in my family! ❤

  26. Robert (Robin) Moore - March 26, 2022 5:05 pm

    We lived for a few years in a NE AR town, home of a large branch of the University of Arkansas. We were amazed one morning to see a help wanted ad in the local paper for a librarian for the town library. Requirements were for a masters in Library Science. Pay? Minimum wage at the time, $1.25/hour.

  27. Rebecca Cotney - March 26, 2022 5:08 pm

    I grew up going to our small library in Georgia & so did our daughter. Little did I ever dream that I would one day be “the Librarian. I have been there for almost 25 years. It is not a job it is a huge part of my life. I love everything about our 100 year old building & the patrons who visit, especially the children. Our daughter is now grown & a librarian as well. Thank you for your love & support of libraries.

  28. Cathie Fowler - March 26, 2022 5:17 pm

    You’ve moved me. Again. Thank you.

  29. Karen Holderman - March 26, 2022 5:26 pm

    Libraries are magical places, I cherished the librarians who who where in them.

  30. pattymack43 - March 26, 2022 5:42 pm

    Thank you for giving recognition to the many angels who walk among us! (AKA as Librarians!!)

  31. shirley c hill - March 26, 2022 6:16 pm

    WOW Sean thanks for sharing the librarian stories and I am sure there are many more and yes being a librarian is a calling just as I feel teaching is also.

  32. Linda Moon - March 26, 2022 6:36 pm

    Librarians and teachers…they each are callings. Just before I read all these Angels’ stories I had cleaned off my library desk that my son made for me from re-purposed timber. My Children’s Librarian name tag sits on it as a happy reminder of my time spent with young readers there at the library. I eventually became a school teacher for all kinds of learners and learning. Heaven.

  33. CHARALEEN WRIGHT - March 29, 2022 4:33 am

  34. Carol Pilmer - March 29, 2022 9:08 pm


  35. Michael Conley - March 30, 2022 2:48 am

    Great article. As a public librarian for 30 years (18 of those as a Bookmobile driver) I have to agree that is a calling. It was wonderful to be a part of so many lives, with so many stories. I loved the books, but more importantly I loved the people I interacted with everyday. It was an honor and a privilege to be a librarian.

  36. Linda Hill - March 30, 2022 3:00 am

    Dear Sean, I’m certain you’ll get multiple comments on this topic – but I’d like to add mine. It started when my Father developed macular degeneration. He’d been an avid reader his entire life – and suddenly he couldn’t see. I suggested books on CD & a younger friend started getting him CD books from the Ft Myer library. My Father was a retired Colonel & had worked as a civilian employee for many years after his retirement from the Army & still lived in the DC area. Our library Angel (the Librarian at the Ft Myer Library) found out about my Dad and started bringing him “books” on her way home, carefully selecting ones she knew were his primary interests-Lee Child, Tom Clancy, Michael Connolly, Harlan Coban, etc., my mother died some years before my Dad lost his sight (which forced him into retirement) and Sally became a frequent & welcome visitor. My sister & her husband were caring for Dad & Sally was often invited to stay for dinner. In time Sally even brought my Dad to visit me & my family in NC. We all grew to love Sally & she brought my granddaughters the children’s books the library was retiring – and CD’s for me the library was replacing. Often they’d just sit together, Daddy listening to books, Sally reading – and sometimes-talking. I can’t begin to tell you how grateful our whole family was for Sally’s friendship & all she did for all of us over the years – but most of all for the companionship & books she provided over the years for my Dad. My Dad died at 96 but if he’d lived to his goal age of 108 I have no doubt Sally would’ve been with him to the end. God bless all librarians-but especially Sally.

  37. Robin - April 8, 2022 8:49 pm

    I now have a new appreciation for librarians! Thank you Sean!

  38. suzi - April 19, 2022 12:34 am

    Librarians are the precursor tobGoogle, but with heart ❤️ 📚


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