Books have played an important role in my life. As an only child and someone who was very shy and reserved, books were my escape, taking me to worlds that were different from my own and showed me the possibilities. When my mom made me go shopping with her, I often would bring along a book and follow her while reading, occassionally bumping into people and things. Scholastic book fairs were one of my favorite things about school and my sometimes-exasperate mother had to remind me that I still had books at home that I hadn’t yet read. Still, she took me to bookstores and indulged my love of reading.
I remember diving into chapter books in second grade and my teachers, along with the kind school librarian, encouraged my curiousity. Getting my first library card was magical and libraries grew my love of learning. That’s probably why I ultimately got into library science. There’s nothing like recommending a book to someone and having them come back for more. When I was first promoted, I remember a new member family coming into the library and the kid ran straight to the children’s section. At that time, I hadn’t done much book purchasing, so the selection was a bit dated. The mom and I talked for a bit and she mentioned that her son loved graphic novels. After they left, I went online and bought $300 worth of Jewish graphic novels.
I feel lucky that I have a job that I love and one in which I am able to guide people into deeper learning and, especially now, escape. Congressman John Lewis won a National Book Award a few years ago for his graphic novel March. In his acceptance speech, he recalled his memory of being denied a library card simply because he was black, but he didn’t let that stop him from seeking out books. His speech left me in tears and I think about him whenever I buy books for the library. One of my goals is to be a librarian that John Lewis would be proud of and I hope I’m doing a good job.