Who’s Your Giant?

Sometimes when I am on vacation I take time to reassess priorities in my life. Part of that process for me is thinking about how I got where I am right now, and acknowledging those who guided me on the journey. Two people who helped me are library directors for whom I used to work, and I have had encounters with both of them recently.

I read a newspaper article interviewing the woman who hired me when I was in high school to re-shelve books at our local library. The article stated that she came to that library as the director fifty years ago [How could that be?].  Still very much involved with libraries and their issues, she reveals in this interview that the dry sense of humor she had back then is still intact. One of her recollections was of when she first arrived in town:

Actually the whole town accepted me right away, although I did get looked up and down the first few times I had lunch in the Coffee Cup. They were not really accustomed to strangers in there. I thought I should get a sandwich board saying ‘I’m the new librarian, just call me Ardath.’

The second director gave me my first adult library job. I’m not sure exactly why she hired me; I think perhaps it was due to a phone call from a mutual friend urging her to do it. At any rate, she took a chance on me. She made sure that I understood the core values of librarianship—equality of access to information for all the people in our community, protecting the privacy of the patron, promoting lifelong learning, resisting censorship, providing high levels of service to users of the library. I came to the library with a good education and a real affection for libraries, but I needed to learn these values so that my professional practice was at the high level of her expectations and served the library and the community well. She did not accept less than our best, and I am a better librarian today because of that. It’s great to have two mentors who have stayed interested and involved with the world of libraries. As anyone who has been in one lately knows, libraries today are radically different than they were during the careers of these two women. Yet the fundamentals are still intact—we work every day to connect people with the information they need. When I review the influence these two had on me, I realize that I am standing on the shoulders of giants. [1] [“If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.”  Isaac Newton.  http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Isaac_Newton]

Who’s your giant?

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