Librarian Has Lasting Impression
April 17, 2012
Earlier this week, April 16th to be exact, was National Librarian Day.
Here at the Kearney Branch, we were reminded when a gift basket arrived from a local business thanking us for all the good work we do.
That got me to thinking about the first librarian I ever met. Her name was Mrs. Francis Meek, and she was the librarian at Swaney Elementary School in Derby, Kansas.
Imagine an older woman with jet black hair, sparkly cateye glasses perched on her face, dressed in a crisp navy blue polyester sailor-style pant suit. From my vantage point, Mrs. Meek looked official. My classmates and I quickly learned that she had two passions: the proper care and feeding of library books and the Dewey Decimal System. And woe to the child that neglected to respect the power of both.
I first met Mrs. Meek as a newly minted first grader. One of the privileges of moving out of the kindergarten cottage and into the big building was a weekly trip to the library. But if we had any ideas of just grabbing a couple books and curling up in the corner to read, we were sadly mistaken. Much of our first library visit was taken up by a serious lecture on the proper care and feeding of library books. During this first of many library lectures, the first grade learned that library books were rather volatile things with spines that could snap, covers that could break, and pages that were strangely attracted to mud puddles. Leaving the library with a copy of Danny and the Dinosaur, I wasn't sure if any of us was ready for this kind of pressure. But Mrs. Meek was confident we were.
During our next visit, we were introduced to the Dewey Decimal System. Like many young children who attended Swaney Elementary in the 1970s, I thought that there actually was a library guy named Dewey Decimal. But over the next six years, my classmates and I, after a rigorous course of testing, learned that Dewey was our ticket to navigate any library we encountered. There was no book we couldn't find thanks to Mrs. Meek's Boot Camp for Books.
When I interviewed years ago for a page position here at the Kearney Branch, I was asked if I knew how to find books in the stacks using the Dewey Decimal System.
I simply answered, "Yes."
I didn't mention that thanks to Mrs. Meek, I knew how to keep them safe from mud puddles, too.