Wednesday, October 10, 2007

When I Say "Librarian," You Say_____

My car is in the shop today, and the garage's courtesy car driver gave me a lift to work. "Merrimack Library? Do you work there? Hey, I've got a question maybe you can answer." And you know what? I could. Now we don't know everything (although my sons think I do, now that they're adults, of course) but we usually know where to find the answers. I'm glad that people we meet when we're off the clock think we're smart and have all the answers.

Back in 1965, my Massachusetts high school band had an exchange concert with the high school in Lebanon, NH. Along with a couple of drummers, I stayed over night with a family in Etna. At dinner, the mother asked the three of us what we wanted to be "when you grow up." When I said, "Librarian," she burst out laughing. I was only 15 and a guest in her home, so I resisted the urge to fling back, "And what do YOU want to be when you grow up?" Even then, librarians had moved out of the Bun Age! What on earth was she thinking?

In 1970, during my senior year at Bridgewater State College in MA, I had several classes with the head of the Social Sciences department, Dr. Jordan Fiore. His office mate, knowing I was headed to library school in a few months, recruited me to come in and organize the office library, which was considerable and disorganized. Dr. Fiore could be pretty intimidating, but sorting out the books gave me some personal contact that my classmates didn't get, and I soon came to see him as an old softie.

One day near the end of the semester, he stormed into class muttering under his breath and generally saying unkind things about the college librarians, with whom he had just had a philosophical argument. Stopping in mid-sentence he turned to me and demanded, "Are you sure you want to be a librarian?" I nodded meekly, at which point he turned to the class and said, "Imagine a nice girl like her ruining herself like that!"

A few years later, I read that Dr. Fiore had received a prestigous award from the college. In a note of congratulations, a told him that, yes, in fact, I had ruined myself and become a librarian. I hope it made him smile. I think that up in heaven's history department, he's proud of me today.

So, when I say "Librarian," what do you say? If you've read this, please post a comment and tell me what you think!

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