By Katherine M.
Had someone from the future told me I would one day work in libraries…I would have not been too surprised! As a child, I visited the Fairfield Public Library (CT) children’s department and loved their wooden climb-thru cubbies and the bright tiny furniture almost as much as I loved borrowing a new story book. I tried my best to memorize the words and pictures knowing the book would not be mine for long. What an impression it made, taking my book to the big desk and seeing the ladies stamp with gusto, giving me looks over the counter top that wordlessly conveyed the message: “take care of this book and you can come back for more”. As a tween, I continued to visit the Fairfield Public Library; I walked from Tomlinson Middle School every Friday after school with my best friend to study. Instead of studying, we tried our best to suppress our endless chatter and tweenage “joie de vivre” with our undone homework spread out on a carrel. I used a copy machine for the first time, and shyly asked a librarian to show me how to use the card catalog. I checked out every Stephen King and Danielle Steele book I could find. Twice.
I moved to Tallahassee to attend Florida State University and spent countless hours in the Strozier Library computer labs typing endless assignments, cramming for exams in quiet corners, snatching up table top real estate with textbooks and course packs. I cherished the library for being a place where I could be studious and productive in a culture of noisy dorms and apartment life….and for providing free print jobs.
After graduation, I moved to Jacksonville and applied for a job with the Jacksonville Public Library Main Branch in the Center for Adult Learning department. I was hired, but only part time, and so to help make two half jobs a whole, I found another part time page job within the Main library in the Interlibrary Loan department. Within weeks of working at Main, I was hooked on library work. I adored the building, the collections, the systems, the niches. There were projects and ways to be involved, literally, around every corner I turned. It did not take long to realize if I really wanted to work at the desks and behind the scenes, I would need a Master’s degree. I applied to FSU’s distance learning program while working as a Librarian Trainee at various JPL branches. In that way, I was able to earn my master’s degree while trying out just about every job duty possible. Reference, circ, youth programming, payroll, send lists, book drop, shelving, on and on. I was able to serve on committees within JPL and at the state level, was able to attend professional library conferences, training, leadership programs–you name it, JPL offered me a chance to try the hat on. I happily worked with JPL for 5 years before I earned a K-12 Media Specialist certification and took a job with a private high school in Jacksonville, where I currently run our freshly remodeled Learning Commons (formerly Media Center). The students are hard workers, but they still chatter endlessly over their homework (which is now accessed and completed on iPads)!
Gale, as a lifelong library user and employee, please consider donating not $1 but donating $4 on behalf of EACH of my libraries; the Fairfield Public Library ( http://fairfieldpubliclibrary.org/ ) , Florida State University libraries ( https://www.lib.fsu.edu/ ), the Jacksonville Public Library (http://jpl.coj.net/ ) and the Bishop Kenny High School Learning Commons ( http://www.bishopkenny.org/Content.aspx?ID=1436 ). They each have provided me with unique and lifelong library experiences that have shaped my personal and professional life for the better.