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I used to use the Stapleton branch of the Public Library all the time. We lived in Grasmere and I would hop the train to go down to the library. I still have vivid memories of the details of that place. The quiet stillness. How, in the summertime, there were fans oscillating and the shades were pulled halfway down to keep out the hot sun. It was still warm, but a little cooler than outside. I remember the little date-due stamper that the librarian had attached to the eraser-end of a pencil that she used at the check-out desk.

Back then you had to be in the 8th grade to be able to borrow books from the "adult" section. It's funny. I never questioned that policy. I don't know if that says something good or bad about me, but I just patiently waited until I could begin reading from the left-hand side of the room where the non-children books were shelved. On the last day of school in 1963 I took my report card, on which my teacher had written across the top, "Promoted to grade 8" directly to the Stapleton Library where I was given my new "adult" card. It was the very first thing I did that day when I got out of school. I had planned that trip for months.

I never asked much of those librarians back then. I supposed many kids didn't understand that they were there to be helpful to their patrons. Even today, many of the students in the school where I work preface a request with, "I hate to bother you, but..." I assure them that I'm just doing what I'm doing in between "being bothered."

I never had a burning desire to be a librarian when I was a kid. It only dawned on me more than a year after I was out of college that it was something so natural and wonderful for me to do with my life. I love using the new technologies and how computers and databases have made information retrieval so efficient. And if I never filed another card into a catalog, I wouldn't care at all. But I really wish I could spend one more hour in the Stapleton Library of the early 60s...especially on a quiet summer afternoon.


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