Dear Library: From Mary

Children’s librarian

Dear Library,

I really should say “Libraries” because there have been many of you – the Carnegie Library in the small town where I grew up (open three days a week); the small shelves in my elementary school classrooms (often in the closets or hallways); the middle school library, where I discovered one of my all-time favorite authors; the high school library, where I discovered Tolkien; the college library, where I mostly studied – as a language major I had so much to read that I did very little outside reading; the graduate school library, where I was allowed into the stacks because I was a grad student – very exciting. I went to other libraries on that campus as well: the undergraduate library, where I rediscovered another of my all-time favorite authors and which was built underground so it wouldn’t shade the oldest unfertilized experimental corn plot in the country; and the math library, where I took international students for tours because the floors of the stacks are made of glass and we could climb all the way up into the carillon tower; the libraries in Boston, Mass. and the suburbs where we lived for several years; the libraries in Waterville, Maine and its sister cities, where I discovered one of my all-time favorite books; the bookmobile in Craig County, Virginia, where I discovered two more of my all-time favorite authors; the tiny library in Alsea, Oregon, where my children experienced summer programs for the first time; and the Athens County Public Libraries. We moved to Athens in 1991, when the Athens Library was still on Court Street. Eventually we visited the libraries in Nelsonville, The Plains and Albany as well. We were early patrons at the new Athens branch. And guess what – I have discovered some of my all-time favorite authors in the Athens County libraries, and I am sure there will be more to come! As you may have guessed, Dear Library, I like books. I like to read them, to myself and to children (and to anyone else who will listen). Since I learned to read, books have been a way I learn things, a way to entertain myself and a way I comfort myself. Really, books have been my drug of choice for a very long time. Like everyone else, I have had some hardish times and some hard times. Books help. Stories help. They help me work things out and they help insulate me temporarily when I need it. So thank you for offering me the opportunity to borrow and borrow and borrow books to enjoy and to learn from. And now that my children are older, I have the mental energy to read nonfiction again. My children have participated in many library programs as patrons, volunteers and presenters, and have been avid readers and regular patrons since we came here. Their involvement in the libraries increased when I began working at the Nelsonville Public Library in 2004, where I am the Children’s Librarian. Dear Library, I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve the community. I like helping people find the materials they need and I love it when patrons recommend the books and movies they like. I love sharing some of my favorite books with children and families; not surprisingly, I have a lot of favorite picture books (there are lots of good books in the world!). And I love developing and sharing programs with children and families. I like to touch books; I enjoy holding them, moving them around, shelving them, straightening them up, giving them away. I really appreciate the system in the Athens County Public Libraries, where we all have our specialties, but we all get to do everything. I love the variety of the work I do. My coworkers are amazing. I have worked in every branch in the county and I have worked with all of the staff. What a gift. My library family is very important to me, and I miss the ones I don’t get to see often. We have a great team at the Nelsonville Library and some very special volunteers who we really depend on. I now have a library life as a big part of my whole life. For that opportunity, Dear Library, I am truly grateful. Best, Mary