Justyna Zajac, Publicity
In honor of National Library Week 2009, OUP will be posting everyday to demonstrate our immense love of libraries. Libraries don’t just house thousands of fascinating books, they are also stunning works of architecture, havens of creativity for communities and venues for free and engaging programs. So please, make sure to check back in all this week and spread the library love.
Our staff has a tremendous respect for libraries. Here they share how their love affair with libraries began (some in very comical ways).
Julie Marshall, Director of Retail Sales:
My town library was my favorite summer “haunt.” Each summer there was a traditional reading program and prizes all around. Being the ever competitive child I dreamed of winning the contest. The summer between my 3rd and 4th grade year the theme of the contest was The Wizard of Oz. For every 5 books read you could put a yellow “brick” on a path from under a faux tree in the center of the children’s department up the grand stair case and to the huge 2 story foyer. You could write your name on the brick to show your progress as it combined with everyone else’s bricks on the path. At the end of the summer the winners were featured in the town newspaper and the grand prize was a deluxe edition of the Wizard of Oz that you could keep for yourself. I read between 5-10 books a day literally with my flashlight in bed up until all hours of the night. The librarian soon realized the older kids were at a serious disadvantage as the rules were set up and that because of my reading level my number of books was going to be a problem. She started quizzing me each day about the books I read to confirm I was reading them. Then she started helping me select harder books that would interest me. As the library started running low on books I hadn’t read she worked tirelessly to get me new books on loan from other sources and even loaned me her own personal books. She worked to find me adult book that contained wholesome material but were from the adult section of the library. In the end I had over 200 bricks that summer and I have a lovely deluxe copy of the Wizard of Oz with a message hand written from the librarian. The write up to the paper was very nice but I had a friend for life. The Librarian was my friend for the rest of my life in Cherokee, IA. When my daughters went home to visit my parents for a few weeks one summer they called excited about the cool summer reading program at the library. My oldest was 9 and she raved about the cool librarian who asked her about the books she read every day. The librarian was concerned my daughter wasn’t reading the books but just filling out the index card each day with between 5 and 10 books. After a couple days the librarian told my daughter she reminded her of another little girl years ago. They realized together the librarian was remembering me and that Shanna was my daughter. She started gathering books for Shanna from all different sources. Shanna won the reading contest for her age group and also has a lovely deluxe edition of The Black Stallion series with a similar handwritten note from the Librarian. The Librarian passed away the next winter. My entire family’s passion for reading was cemented by that one Librarian.
As a side note my hometown, Cherokee, IA, is 30 minutes from Spencer, IA home of Dewey the Library cat and that is one of the libraries that loaned books back and forth with Cherokee. Dewey was there for both my “library summer” and my daughter’s.
Claudia Dukeshire, Project Editor-Reference
Three years ago I took a trip to India as a tourist. To get up-to-speed with modern India and to learn some of the social and political history that I didn’t yet know, I read many books and watched as many “Bollywood” movies as I could find.
The library was able to supply me with a lot of movies. One of the librarians, formerly a native of Calcutta, helped me with making selections of both books and movies and also gave me some pointers about traveling in India.
This all enriched my view tremendously. I think she wants to go back and visit now, since I’ve reminded her of home.
Susan Ferber, Executive Editor-History
It’s a little embarrassing to admit this, but I was almost born in a library. My mother taught in a public school that was converted into the public library. And ever since that time, the library was practically a second home for me. I owned very few books as a middle-class suburban child. Every few days my mother would take me to the library and I would take out the maximum number allowed. I’d make a list at home of every title and check them off when I returned them, and then go pick out a new set. This went on from the time I was carried to the library until I went off to college. The first place I learned to drive was the library!
Today, although she has a daughter in publishing who can get virtually any book for her, when I ask my mother new titles she’d like, she looks through publishers’ catalogues and orders them…from the library.
Grace LaBatt, Associate Editor-Reference
Junior year of high school at a large public school in San Antonio, my friends Farley and Chris were kicked out of the library for general rowdiness. This wasn’t the first time, but it was the first time they decided to take action. The school had a monopoly on books after all—something had to be done. So they began their own “library” just outside the library’s doors in the main hallway, calling it the Chris Farley Library in honor of the late comedian. They passed out flyers with Farley’s face and a few elusive references to his book collection, enlisted friends to check out as many books as they could, and quickly amassed a few shelves-worth of titles; just as quickly, they watched as the books disappeared without a trace. The actual bookkeeping of book- lending was not something they’d given much thought.
While they were thereafter permanently forbidden entry to the school’s library, Farley and Chris did come out with a new appreciation for librarians and a newfound school-wide popularity. Who, after all, doesn’t want free books?
Purdy, Director of Publicity
The public library in my hometown was a stone’s throw from my grandmother’s house. Often when she’d babysit me and my brothers she would send us to the library to return a stack and pick up additional books she planned to read. I suspect it was her way of getting a moments peace when we’d get a little over rambunctious.
While at the library I discovered the joys of Agatha Christie and Hitchcock’s Jupiter Jones mysteries, Matthew Looney books, and Louis Lamour westerns. In one corner of the library was a giant dictionary that reeked of must and dust. This is where I would look up any of the swear words my cousins would use that I didn’t know the definition of. My brother and I would also make a game of closing our eyes, flipping pages, pointing to a random word and quizzing each other as to the definition. Before you judge, this was pre-cable TV, pre-video games, and pre-internet.
When the librarian would tire of our rambunctiousness she’d call us to the desk and present us with the fresh stack of books my grandmother had requested and encourage us to take them back to her. If there was enough time we might stop at the WWII canon on the front lawn of the Library and climb to the tip of the barrel and look in to see what garbage had been stuffed down it. We found many gross treasures doing this.
Those were great good memories. And to this day, you can still catch me looking up swear words in the dictionary from time to time.
Megan Kennedy, Marketing Manager, Ac/Trade
As a child, I was an eager reader, an avid fan of books, an early adopter to the pleasures of the page. I also had a pain-in-the ass sister one year my junior who wouldn’t allow me the peace I needed to keep up my reading habit. Finally, I discovered a trick: if I read out loud to Kelly I could keep her quiet, while at the same time enjoy my book. And we hit pay dirt when mom brought home Help! I’m a Prisoner in the Library. This little gem of a book tells the tale of two sisters who never agree on anything, but must rely on each other when they accidentally get locked in an odd old library in the middle of a snowstorm. The younger, imaginative sister swears there are banshees in the rafters while the older, logical sister rationalizes the strange sounds. Finally they are found, and the sisters emerge with a greater appreciation of both the library and each other. I read the whole story to Kelly in one sitting, took a hot chocolate break, and then read it to her again. For the rest of that winter, we begged to go to the library and would try to “accidentally” get ourselves locked in—we’d split up, hide under tables and in the bathroom, peek around the bookcases and signal to each other when our parents were looking for us. Unfortunately we were never left there overnight, but we did manage to drum up some mischief and adventure in the library that winter. By springtime we had moved on to The Boxcar Children series and started plotting our escape to set up housekeeping in an abandoned railroad car in the woods…