Though I was born in Texas, my family moved to a border city in Mexico when I was four years old. The city I lived in does have a library, but it's roughly the size of your average one-car garage. I hate to say this, but most people there didn't read much other than celebrity magazines. It's hard to say if the demand for a better library has just never been there to begin with, or the lack of supply ensured that the good people of la frontera simply learned to do without a biblioteca.
Still, I suppose the librarian blood has been pumping within me for a long time now. We moved back to Texas in '89, to a small neighborhood that I affectionately call "Little Mexico." There is a small but popular little library there, and since my mother loved to read, she'd take us there every other Saturday or so. I specifically remember one particular instance, as I perused the juvenile fiction section. I must have been around ten or eleven. I knew that the books were classified by the last name of the author, and I saw a few books that were-- *GASP!*-- not in proper alphabetical order. I looked around and made sure no one was looking at me. When I made sure that I truly was alone, I quietly rearranged them so that they were in the right order.
Aw yeah. Life in the fast lane.
In high school, I worked at the school library one semester, where I met a long-haired bookworm in a leather jacket who would later become my first boyfriend. In college, students in the work-study program had to take a personality test to place them in the right department. I simply asked them to stick me in the library, where I knew I could read and be happy. I was majoring in Spanish and French, but of course those degrees do nothing for you in the workforce, unless you couple them with something else. Business. Marketing. Translation. Anything!
I, of course, was clueless. I'd see flyers in the library lounge for library school. But I thought, "Are you kidding me? More debt? Yeah right!" At this point, I was working both at the university library and a law library downtown. Soon I was also preparing to move to Japan with the JET Programme, where I taught English to high school students for three years. I think I could be just about any type of librarian, but I feel my experiences with teens in Japan really prepared me for youth librarianship.
After JET, I went back home and got a job as a part-time library assistant. I was working but unable to make ends meet, so I was, fabulously, getting into even more debt. Then I learned about a foundation that would help me finance my education, I wrote a kick-ass admissions essay, and a year and a half later, I'm halfway through with library school.
Nowadays I try to keep my camera on me, just in case we pass up a library. If my husband is with me, he'll take a picture of me in mid-air, just like the one you see here in Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh. See my bare foot and a big black spot next to it? Believe it or not, that black dot is my shoe, which fell off during my jump.
It's a hazardous and sometimes embarrassing thing, you know, being in love with libraries.
Pictures, from top to bottom:
a) Providence Athenaeum Library
Providence, RI (06.01.07)
b) William J. Clinton Presidential Library
Little Rock, AR (7.17.07)
c) Squirrel Hill Library
Pittsburgh, PA (7.28.07)