I have loved reading for as long as I can remember … lost for hours in the artistry of words woven together into incredible tapestries. When Miss Sauder, my seventh grade English teacher introduced us to parsing, it was like a behind-the-scenes tour. My love of words and reading is probably why I pursued a Bachelor of Arts in English.
But it wasn’t until college that I fully understood my love for books. I spent my undergrad years as a Library Technical Assistant at the University of Charleston (WV). What started as a work-study job became a tailored internship because of my love of all things library. During the semester, my primary job was working in acquisitions and cataloging. During the summers, I did a little bit of everything – hours at the Circulation and Reference Desks, shelving, repair, creating bulletin boards, and dusting.
From then on, whenever anyone asked “what are you going to do with an English degree, teach?” my reply was “Nope. I’m going to be a librarian!” Fast forward 20-odd years.
By far, my favorite time was shelving. In the early 1980s, the library was housed in the main building, on the third and fourth floors of Riggleman Hall. (Now it is its own building!) Back then, the library’s main floor housed the Reference and Circulation Desks, the card catalog, periodicals, and study tables. It also looked up to the second floor, which was a balcony. My favorite place was hanging out with the books on the library’s third floor. There were just a few study carrels up there, and no one ever used them … except me. I wasn’t alone, the books were there, and so was the space to think or explore or hide from a boyfriend I was mad at or just study.
A couple weeks ago I was cleaning out some papers, and I found my library folder. There, in a nice neat pile were the application to the University of Maryland School of Library and Information Sciences, my acceptance letter, the scholarship letter, and my parking sticker. Other than orientation, I never spent much time at Maryland. Three weeks before my first steps toward a library career, I got a new job.
Long story short, the new job had lots of responsibility and training requirements. Even with a full ride to Maryland, I couldn’t afford mess up. I gave my new job everything I had – and spent 16 years loving it.
I haven’t given up on the idea of getting that MLIS one day. Today is not that day. Today is a day for thanking the librarians who over the years have shared their love of reading and books and inspired me to reach for the high shelf.
I think I’ll visit the library and thank them in person. Then I’ll grab a book, find a comfy quiet spot, and read … in their honor of course!