Thursday, September 6, 2007

libraries (day three)

Yesterday's list was not meant to be an exhaustive one of all the libraries I have ever been in, of course. I have been in most of the public libraries in Lorain County at one time or another, for example, and I remember that Ben, Julie and I went to a branch library somewhere in Columbus one time when Tom was participating in some sort of academic competition. (Help me out here, guys. I don't think it was Academic Challenge - some sort of math competition, maybe?) I remember my dad taking us into the Carnegie Library in Oberlin once when we were kids, and being quite awed by it.

Of course, there are the libraries I have tried to visit, but found them closed. Ben and I stopped several times as we drove through Wellington to check out the lovely little Herrick Memorial Library, but it was never open when we were there. Julie and I found the Reed Memorial Library in Ravenna not yet open at 10:00 a.m. on a weekday morning, and decided it wasn't, perhaps, the library for us. I think we tried to visit the Bowling Green Public Library one weekend when we were there, as well. And we did wait in the parking lot of the Athens Public Library while Julie went in to pick up her Phi Beta Kappa cord right before commencement, but I don't really think that counts.

As Julie pointed out in her comment, there are the university libraries I have visited. Our landmark library at KSU, of course, and the library at LCCC, to begin with. I have been in the libraries at BGSU, OU, and the U of D, and, also, it occurs to me, the Mudd Resource Center at Oberlin College. I may well have gone into the library at University of Chicago with my brother, but, alas, that is too long ago for me to remember now.

And, you know, I want to say that I feel guilty that I have damned the Elyria Public Library with faint praise in my earlier posts. It is a fine little library, and what makes it that way is its collection of books, of course - and everything else a library has to have nowadays. But equally important is the library staff. Some of the women on that staff have made it their life's work to serve at that library, and they have done a damn fine job. I mentioned the wonderful children's librarians who enriched my kids' lives in an earlier comment, but I also want to recognize the outstanding reference staff of Rose Burton and Eve Major and Marianne Mahl. And I can't forget Terri Miller, who has been ably running the circ desk all these years. If each of these women has not yet reached twenty years at the library - and I know some of them have passed that milestone - they are real close. They are just as crucial to the library as the bricks and posts of the building and the books that are housed there.

I thank you for your time. *steps down off soap box*


Julie said...

i think that trip to columbus was for was "math counts," the math team from eastern heights junior high. is that what it was called? i don't remember either!

i do think that staff at epl was pretty amazing, and i really liked a lot (but not all!) of the children's librarians. i also think the knowledge and expertise of reference librarians is really very underused and underrated. i was mostly too scared to ask the ones in elyria for help. in college, though, i've attended many presentations by reference librarians trying to give us a sense of the amazing wealth of resources that are out there for us (especially as history folks), and was pretty much staggered by the scope of their knowledge. it's a shame that so much of the time in public libraries they're reduced to babysitters for kids surfing the web and playing computer games!

anne mancine said...

Check out this site I found and you'll see some of those hard-working staff members I was talking about:

library staff photos

Eostre said...

It sounds like MathCounts to me; I remember doing that in Jr High. I think I still have the t-shirt, somewhere...

If you ever feel like taking a detour on a drive to Chicago, the main library in downtown Toledo is quite nice, also. There are some wonderful WPA-style frescoes, lovely rich woodwook, and the children's room upstairs is super-cool. Personally, I like it better than the Harold Washington in Chicago. [Just don't tell my coworkers!]

anne mancine said...

T-shirts. Yes, red t-shirts.

Toledo has a very nice art museum, as well, as I recall. Those two places alone would probably make it worth the drive.

I have to say, the reference librarian at Harold Washington was very nice to me, recommending a good, close place to eat, and inordinately admiring my painted glass-bead necklace, which my little Hungarian grandmother had purchased in Chicago, actually, at the 1933 Century of Progress.

(How's that for a run-on sentence?)