Saturday, January 15, 2011


"A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life." 
         Henry Ward Beecher  (1813-1887)

The library of my childhood in Berwyn, Illinois was situated above a retail store on the second floor and I remember most of the time loving the space filled with books, but I can recall all too vividly the knot in my stomach as I ascended those stairs during the summer reading program. The librarian had a box of index cards and when I'd settled in a little chair beside her at her desk, she'd extract from the box a card with questions on it about the book I'd just read. My anxiety knew no bounds and to this day there's a fear that I'll be tested and come up short. What if I missed one of the answers and was thought not to have read the book? I don't recall that ever happening, but my over-active imagination feared the worst as it still tends to.

Libraries are very awe-inspiring places and I've always thought of them as safe locations except for the awful thing that took place in Columbine. Bullies don't generally hang out in libraries. I helped in the junior high library when I was 12 and when one of the librarians, years later, visited my bookshop, I reminded her of our previous association and she replied, "Well, I don't remember you. You must not be a book person." I don't believe in violence, so I didn't smack her, but I wanted to.

In 2009 we moved to the Manor and I found myself on the Library Committee which was all well and good except that the library lady kept trying to talk me into taking over her duties. I resisted, feeling the responsibility would be overwhelming at this stage of my life. She tried equally hard to convince another lady on the committee to assume the job. Nadine resisted as strongly as I did and finally we decided between the two of us to co-chair the position.

The previous librarian, over the years, had brought the book collection into quite a marvelous order. It was pristinely kept, and I knew the place would soon disintegrate, if I became the new librarian, into a sort of Olde Curiosity Shoppe look. I'm the Queen of Disarray. Nadine keeps me in check; she and I seem to work well together and we share the same vision of having the library a place for people to come to enjoy books in whatever way pleases them. Together we believe very strongly in this quote:

"A good library will never be too neat, or too dusty, because somebody will always be in it, taking books off the shelves and staying up late reading them."
                                                        ~ Lemony Snicket

We're doing some things differently than the previous manager and what we hadn't counted on was that it was going to be a bit of a conflict to institute our new ways. We keep trying. We even wrote, for the Manor newsletter that the library lights would be on until 7:30 p.m. and urged insomniacs to visit at any time of the night, instructing them where to find the light switch. 

Nadine and I rarely sit at the same supper table, but we come together after the meal to stop in at the library around 6 p.m. and often as not as we approach our destination we find a dark room. We're trying to be kind and gentle in getting our point across. After all, it was done the same way for 7 years, but we know how we'd like to run the library to attract more readers.

I suppose the situation  could be described as "too many cooks spoiling the broth". Just yesterday we spent time searching out a book Nadine had promised to a resident and it couldn't be found, no matter how hard we perused the shelves. Someone else had put it away. We would welcome the help if communication were involved. A second search unearthed it at last, but it caused us to set our collective jaw. I've thought of offering the job title back, but Nadine vetoes that idea. Patience is called for. Ralph Waldo Emerson said "Patience and fortitude conquer all things." Barbara Johnson defines it as "Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears."

Jane & Nadine speaking of books.


  1. It never ends!!! A Non O Mouse

  2. Thank you, Jane, for the story and your fabulous quotes. Persevere, the books need you!

    I grew up in a small town where the town's very first library was a Carnegie-funded library. I was too young to enjoy that gorgeous old building and spent my happy youth in the town's 'new' library. I have the most vivid memories of my first library card, a beautiful blue with my own number embossed on metal so the librarian, Dorthea Nelson, could imprint it for her records.

    I always treasure (and collect!) your quotes Jane and delighted in one I read recently from writer Pat Conroy:

    "If you ever see me with a Kindle, shoot me in the back of the head."

  3. Sounds like you were destined to be a part of this. I'm amazed that librarian didn't remember you--I'd say you're pretty memorable!

    Her loss...

  4. I will never forget you! I love this blog and i love Windsor manor library. I so want to go and rifle through and get myself a book!! Oh ... I know... i need to live there! Anyway,GT never sends me there as they hired new people out n that area. So thank you, for all the pictures!!! You and Nadine stay strong. We know how much people like change!!!

  5. I can't tell you how much I love this post. It brought back such wonderful memories of the little library in La Crescenta where I spent so many hours (until high school when we used trips to the Glendale Library to wrangle a car from either my parents or Mick and Nadine). The picture of you and Nadine discussing books is very dear to my heart and I know how gently persuasive Nadine can be in keeping one in check. I'm so glad the two of you are providing this valuable service to the Windsor Manor library. You get volunteer credits!!! T.O. Joanne

  6. Nadine, your daughter, Timi sent me a copy of this blog with your picture on it... Just as Joanne said, we loved the LaCrescenta Library. Then we met boys!!!.. I am so happy to hear about your fun days at Windsor through Timi...
    And co-helping with your best friend in Windsor Library! This blog is wonderful...