Oh Those Wonderful Librarians!

Remember those days as a kid, wandering into the library and being guided to a book by the librarian? I have very fond memories of both school and public librarians of my childhood years. Their recommendations provided me rich rewards and a deep appreciation for books.

At the end of May, I had the honor to participate in a panel of authors at the Library Journal Day of Dialog. The audience was an energetic collection of librarians from across the U.S. That experience brought home to me once again just how large the role of librarians is in our lives as readers and writers.

As children, most of us rely on adults to shape our reading choices. If we are lucky, we encounter those wonderful mentors who have noted our interests and taken the time to get to know us. They lead us to new authors, suggest unfamiliar books, and launch us into great adventures.

I recall the librarian in the children’s section of the public library helping my sister pick out my earliest books. She always made sure we left with a pile of five or six or seven and fostered my initial love of books and the library so much that I played “library” with friends, creating cards for each of my own books and carefully entering names and dates each time I loaned to a friend…even if it was only for the couple hours of play time.

In my elementary years, my school librarian walked me through the Paddington Bear series, showed me the biography section, told me about Maud Hart Lovelace (the Betsy-Tacy series); suggested the Boxcar Children and Happy Hollister mysteries, made sure I found all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and let me read Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret a year early (it was restricted to sixth graders).

When I moved, just before sixth grade, the public librarian in my new community led me through their entire Nancy Drew collection during my first six months in the small town-- I think I read ninety-nine books in that time (they didn’t have the entire series). When new books came in, she always made sure I knew about them. She introduced me to YA, long before it was called YA—I’ll never forget Lois Duncan, Betsy Byars, and Judy Blume. She and made sure I didn’t miss Gone with the Wind and other classics. Then, just as I was tiring of Harlequin’s sweet romances, she put Kathleen E. Woodiwiss and LaVyrle Spencer into my hands and sealed my fate.

With each move I made during my adult life, I always found the library. While I didn’t forge the relationships with librarians that I had during childhood and adolescence, they always remained important to me.

As an author, I find librarians still play a big role in my life. Five Star Publishing focuses on the library market. Thus, libraries make up the bulk of my sales and librarian recommendations drive increases in my readership. The Day of Dialog brought me face to face with many of those librarians responsible for building collections. They were articulate, curious, intelligent, nurturing men and women…just like all the librarians I remember in my life…and I can’t help waxing nostalgic as a result.

What memories do you have of librarians? Do they still play a role in your life? In your children’s lives? Tell us about them.

Then…remember to tell them!!

Pamela Nowak
Pamela Nowak writes historical romance set in the American West. In addition to widespread critical acclaim, her books have won multiple national awards. In love with history and rich characters for most of her life, Pam has a B.A. in history, has taught prison inmates, managed the Fort Yuma National Historic Site and run a homeless shelter. She was named the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers' Writer of the Year in 2010, chaired three conferences, and now serves as volunteer coordinator. Pam and her life partner Ken live in Denver. Their combined families include six daughters and several grand-children. Together, they parent a dog and a cat. More about Pam on her website.

4 thoughts on “Oh Those Wonderful Librarians!

  1. My favorite libraries were the old Carnegie buildings. Roaming the stacks is still pretty high on my list of happy activities. It’s no wonder that librarians are such wonderful people. They’re around books all day! There really should be a “hug your librarian day” for readers and writers.

  2. Those buildings were fantastic! There’s just a special ambience about them and those that survive are treasures indeed. In them, more than anywhere else, there is that special “scent”. Somehow, in the modern buildings, the air systems seem to disrupt it.

  3. I had a chance to go visit my old local library of 50 years ago last summer. Wonderful trip down memory lane. I wish I had such vivid recall as you, Pam. I only remember miles of book spines on shelves and running my fingers over them as often as possible. Our school library was in the old part of the building with lots of oak paneling and tall, narrow, windows. I loved it.

  4. Oh, Liesa…wasn’t it wonderful just wandering down those aisles, looking at all those endless books? I loved the exploration–still do. Now, though, I tend to do it more in non-fiction. I look up call numbers of the topic I’m researching then head for the stacks and simply look through all the books on the topic. When I was a kid, though, it was in the fiction section. Librarians would steer me to an author and I would search threw their titles, seeking those that caught me most. I’d go from author to author. But there would always be books in between that caught my attention simply because of the title or the spine or some other aspect of the book. I love the libraries as much as I do the librarians!

Comments are closed.