when i was in school, the library was tucked away in the corner of the stone building that faced the playground, half of it buried in the earth with windows along the ceiling that filtered sunlight into the book-filled recesses. part of the room was dedicated to desks and early 80s Apple computers where classes would sit for a half an hour playing number munchers or practicing keyboarding, and the rest of the room was divided into a small kids’ book section and everyone else’s books.
i was what you would have called a “voracious” reader throughout my gradeschool and high school days, mostly because i found myself on the fringes of friend social structures in my classes. plus i liked to read. i remember in first grade i was telling third graders how to read the petitions for weekly mass. (that might explain the friendlessness…) so in first and second grade, after i’d outgrown and become bored with the picture books and exhausted the small supply of non-picture books in the section, i asked the white-haired librarian (who i remember as quite cranky) if i could read the “Little House on the Prairie” books from the big kids’ section. there were a couple girls in the class whose parents had bought them the series and they had read them. i so wanted to read them! but the librarian, who was bent on keeping the rules, said i couldn’t read them because i was too young.
i must have complained enough, because my aunt colette, who was a school librarian in rochester, brought me a few books in the series that were remainders at her library: little house in the big woods and the last two in the series. i devoured those books. i must have read each of them ten times, and by the time i was able to actually use the better part of the library and check out the rest of books in the series, they were all falling apart.
today neil gaiman started #LibrarianAngel(s) trending on twitter. i thought of all the librarians i’d known through my life, and the one who was the best, even though she’d never checked out a book for me, was colettie. not only did she get me those remainders, she suggested books and authors on more than one occasion that i fell in love with, like robin mckinley and the polar express (back in the 80s!). she tended toward the weird, fantastic, and morbid; i’d like to think she and mr. gaiman would have got along swimmingly.
cheers aunt C, my #LibrarianAngel.