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.