Tuesday, April 13, 2010

National Library Week - The Calling of a Librarian

Today I have another awesome librarian who realized her call to become a librarian is a bit out of the ordinary. Unlike me, who used to play library with my older sister.. that and school..

Courtney runs a really fun blog called Stiletto Storytime.

The Calling of a Librarian

I fell in love with reading at an early age. I realized I could go away…just by opening a book. As an only child who lived in the country without friends nearby, books became my friends during those long lazy summers. Anne Shirley, Laura Wilder, Marianne Dashwood and even Dracula became close companions. As a girl I would spend time in the country with my Great Grandmother, the days were devoted to climbing trees and mud pies but the nights were devoted to reading. She was a voracious reader and we would lie in bed at night side by side reading for hours often until the early morning light once again shown through the windows. I loved to pull all her books off her shelves marveling at their old smell and publication dates, even at a young age I was already in love with old books. I much preferred to read her classics than modern books written for my age group. She shared with me a love of reading and an appreciation of literature that I will cherish always. To this day my most prized possession is her copy of Pride and Prejudice with her name and the year she read it neatly printed in the front cover. A nurse by trade, I sometimes wish she were here now so I could ask if she would have rather been a librarian. I think it would be the case but the times in which she lived needed their women for nursing and she answered that call as her lifetime profession.

I think she would be proud to know she made not only a lifetime reader but also a librarian out of me.

Later in life, I came to enjoy books at such a rate that the library was the only way to feed my insatiable urge. I knew I was different in that way. Even in high school, I learned among my popular group of friends that no one else took huge stacks of books home and back each week for fun. When it came time for College, I dabbled in History and Political Science but ended up in my beloved English department focusing on the British classics. When it came time to graduate, I naturally thought I would go on to Graduate School and become an English Professor but somehow I felt a calling to go to Library School instead. I can’t explain it but I made the decision and jumped, thinking I would go on to a College Library and specialize in English still working with my beloved classical works.

Imagine my surprise when I found I wanted more than anything to work in a public library in a low-income area with children who often did not have a single book in their homes. Instead of lectures on Shakespeare, my days were often spent cutting out what seemed like a million pieces of construction paper for crafts, practicing with hand puppets and writing reviews on juvenile literature and picture books. But it was all for the love of reading and the joy of sharing. Once again my Great Grandmother long gone came in to my life in the form of inspiration. She is one of the main reasons I chose to be a Children’s Librarian so that I could share that love with others especially children who might not otherwise be exposed to what a pure joy reading can be. It only takes one person to light the fire of learning in a child’s heart and if in my career I can encourage just one child, it will be worth it.

Reading is still my escape from the busy world around me. When I pick up a book all my stress and worries float away and it is simply: the story and me. I still love to sniff books new or old, the sight of rows of neatly shelved books still gets me excited and nothing gives me more pleasure than learning that a book I suggested took some away to a place they truly enjoyed. That’s the calling of the librarian. Often the over educated and under paid but that’s what makes it a calling. You do it because you love it. You do it because it’s who you are. Libraries are the universal equalizer, they provide anyone with information and information is power. I am very proud to be a part of that.

Thank you Courtney for sharing more about how you decided being a librarian was a perfect fit for you! I'm so glad we have such passionate librarians in this world! Gone are the stingy old librarians who shush and glare at you. I worked last year with possibly the loudest and most fun librarian and if I had a billion dollars I probably would've kept that job because I loved that school so much. But more on that later... :-D


  1. I love this post! I played library all the time and loved to read, so it should have occured to me earlier to become a librarian, but it was a random thing for me too. I went from a Communications/Radio undergrad to library school-and I love it!

  2. I love this. It is so personal and heartfelt. I am so glad there are librarians like you out there. :)

  3. What a great story! I don't remember playing "library" when I was a kid. In fact, I didn't even think about becoming a librarian until I was done with my astronomy undergrad and realizing I had not many options for that career. How silly, since I've had a life-long love of reading!

  4. My grandmother read tabloids in the effort to fall asleep, but I did get my love of books from family -- my parents. As a kid, going to the library was always a treat. Like Sarah, I was a Communications undergrad...with a growing inkling to indulge in a career that will showcase my love of books. It never occured to me growing up to consider being a librarian, but I appreciate the idea much more now. Great post.

  5. My grandfather is one of the most voracious readers I know AND he never finished high school. He's someone whom I have always admired and I credit him and other bookish-types (but not necessarily education-types) in my family with instilling a lov of reading and learning in me from a very early age. As a teacher, I always try to model great reading habits because you never know which kids will be inspired to read JUST because their teacher does. Thanks for sharing your story and reminding me of my own!

  6. I wish I had played library as a kid! It never even occurred to me that librarian was a career until I had no idea what to do with an English degree if I didn't want to teach.

    I'm loving these NLW posts -- so sweet!

  7. I wish i could say that i would've loved to play librarian as a kid, but i didnt use to read as much as a kid, now i read helluva lot, but Mrs Simpson-the nicest librarian i've met, got me into reading, and now i read so many books its unbelievable, so librarians are so helpful in ispiring young people to read. Such a personal post, thankyou!

  8. Someone once told me being a librarian is just as rewarding as being a teacher. You do what you love and for the love of reading and books I think its a wonderful job! Keep up the wonderful work :)

  9. I loved reading this post! I love that her Grandmother inspired her love of reading. I love that she chose to work in a low-income area. I love that she's making a difference in so many children's lives. And I loved this - "It only takes one person to light the fire of learning in a child’s heart and if in my career I can encourage just one child, it will be worth it. "

    I want to go hug a librarian now.

  10. Thank you all so much for your sweet words! This post was from my heart and it means so much that it came across that way. Thanks to Booking in the 21st Century for the honor of guest posting!

    Thanks again,


Leave some love!