Vol. III, Issue 2, July 14, 2004
Winning Essay: So You Want to Be a Librarian Essay Contest
By Jennifer Lafrance, Student, Wayne State University Library and Information Science Program, firstname.lastname@example.org.
When my dad first painted my “new” bike red with a can of spray paint, I was excited. The spicy little bike with the tassels and plastic basket was mine. I now had a way to travel in style to the haven of my solitude. The ride to and from the Manistee Public Library—just eight short blocks due north—was always an eagerly anticipated trip. It was within the walls of this fortress of information that I found the muse of librarianship.
Just the way the library presented itself enthralled me. Even though the bike rack was at the back entrance, I would walk around to the front of the stately façade of this old building each and every time. The air conditioners roared me a ravenous welcome in the summer as I raced past them to leap up the uneven cement stairs that led to the entrance of that Greek Revival building. Regardless of the fact that the front stairs were partitioned off into sections of left and right, I always took the left on the way up and the right on the way down. I cannot recall a time I strayed from this. It was like a pact between good friends—a “pinky swear” where little girls lock their smallest fingers together in a promise. The library and I seemed to “link” our feet and stairs in that manner. I would give the stacks of books my attention and in return I would receive the reward of taking from this old library what she had to give—an abundance of knowledge and a plethora of imaginary characters with whom to share experiences. The perpetual temptation to explore the words of John Steinbeck, Franklin W. Dixon, and Dr. Seuss was omnipotent in my life.
It wasn’t just the reading materials that fascinated me, however. The stamping of the checkout cards—green for my card file, melon for the library records, and the white for my book—was a process I will never forget. Seemingly mundane, it was magical to me. The gentle thumping of the stamp on the small ink pad and then on the cards compared to no other sound. Sometimes, the really eager librarians would thump it twice, three times before stamping the cards. Others would thump, stamp, thump, stamp, thump until all the cards were complete and my treasures were ready for transport. The books were set in front of me—often eye level depending on my age—on the large, circular oak desk that parked itself boldly in the center of the library; they were always in a mountainous formation with the smallest being on top and the largest forming the base of the pile.
Although I now drive a red Toyota RAV4, check out my books via a Scantron
computer system, and am now interested in the art of Dr. Seuss versus
his rhymes of oddly colored food, I will never forget those days pedaling
away to reach the bike rack. After swirling the combination lock around
twice, I was off and running through the fields with Laura Ingalls Wilder
as she shared her stories of Pa and Ma and Mary. My calling to become
a librarian happened many years ago when my feet touched the steps—after
all a pinky swear is a lifelong promise…