by Lara Neel, Trade Marketing Manager
It’s no surprise that most people who work in publishing tend to be major bookworms. Since April is School Library Month, I thought it would be fun to ask my co-bookworms for memories of their school libraries. Here are a few. We’d love to hear about yours in the comments!
Marlena Serviss, Contracts Administrator
In fifth or sixth grade I remember after picking out my books from the school library for the week, I would wander over to the American Girl books and if they were out of order, reorder them so that they were in series order, Felicity through Molly. One day, our school librarian noticed me sitting next to the shelves rearranging the books and asked me what I was doing. I explained to her that I was reordering them so they were in chronological order. She smiled, thanked me for my help and told me that I should think about becoming a librarian someday. As someone whose favorite childhood character was Miss Rumphius, and who has always loved books, it was one of my favorite memories both inside and outside the library stacks.
Geri Goldman, Kar-Ben Customer Service Representative
When I was in Kindergarten, I was the only one in my class who already knew how to read, so instead of having to stay in class during the reading lesson, a 4th grader would come pick me up every day and take me to the school library to read. We had a special table in the library where we always sat. We would pick out books to read together. My favorite was about a Skunk, who I believe was named Skippy. I felt so special being able to read in the library every day with the “big kids.”
Rachel Zugschwert, Group Marketing Director
My junior high school library holds the strongest memories for me. I loved browsing through that library, stumbling upon the random things on the shelves. I remember the smell of it, the light streaming through the windows and catching the dust motes hanging in the air. One book that I found there was Motel of the Mysteries, which I found absolutely hysterical. Decades later, my sister gave me a copy of it as a birthday present, and I still enjoy flipping through it. That library is also where I discovered Stephen King as a 12-year-old, which as you might guess was a formative experience. Last year, I read the entire Dark Tower series, so once again, the experiences in that library are still influencing my life today.
Jenny Krueger, School and Library Publishing Director
I vividly remember reading a book about the Irish potato famine in the library, sitting at one of the desks, and I was FASCINATED. I remember that now when we work on school and library products that may not be the flashiest in the world. Some reader out there will likely read that book and have the same experience!
Also, the librarian herself taught me that I could simply fold paper instead of crumpling it to throw it away—it saves space. I still think of that when I put paper in the recycle bin!
Lindsay Matvick, Publicity Manager
Library birthday celebrations in elementary school are one of my favorite memories! Our school librarian would make personalized birthday crowns for each student. We would get to play “librarian” by picking our favorite book and reading it to the class while sitting in her rocking chair. It was like being a star for the day!
Greg Hunter, Associate Editorial Director, Graphic Universe
My school library was well stocked with kid-friendly biographies of football stars and other athletes, the reading of which helped the second-grade me convince myself I cared about football at a time when it really behooved me socially to do so. Sure, certain gulfs between myself and my classmates remained. The first time I suggested that we play football at recess, I was suggesting we play-act football, each of us adopting the persona of a Steve Young or a Reggie White based on what we knew from our library books. It didn’t occur to me that my peers would want to play the game itself. So my idea proved confusing and unpopular, but here’s the thing: I got the names right. Which I think did narrow the gulf a little bit, and I have my school library to thank for that.
Lois Wallentine, School & Library Marketing Director
The library at Garfield Elementary circa 1976 was filled with comfy red and yellow bean bag chairs. I can tell you exactly where the Lois Lenski and Laura Ingalls Wilder books were shelved. But my favorite memory was listening to our librarian read aloud How to Eat Fried Worms, by Thomas Rockwell. To third-graders who were completely absorbed in the Little House books, Rockwell’s book was shocking; I’m sure the librarian knew it would be.
My friends and I physically gagged at the thought of actually eating a worm—even if covered in condiments. We hung on every word, wondering how Billy would possibly manage to devour the next worm. Yet while thoroughly grossed out, we all wanted to read it again and again. That book probably knocked poor Laura off the top of the “most checked out” list and gave our librarian many chuckles as she opened a gateway to more “subversive” literature.
I learned, later, that Thomas Rockwell was the son of artist Norman Rockwell. The book was rejected by 23 publishers before Franklin Watts accepted it in 1973; it sold more than 3 million copies and earned Rockwell several awards. The book also appears on ALA’s list of most frequently challenged books during 1990-2000, as it could possibly influence children to try “socially unacceptable activities” like eating worms and gambling. To this day, I have never eaten a worm…
…And Here’s A Little Story from Me
I’ve always had such a hard time choosing books at the library. I want to take them all home! I think the limit at my elementary school library was 10 books. As a shy kid, I didn’t want to argue, but I wanted more than 10 books! The librarian made a deal with me. If I finished reading all 10 books, I could bring them back and she would let me choose 10 more. She was so kind to me. I didn’t realize that, of course, bringing back 10 books meant I could take new books, if I had read them or not. I guess she had learned that there was little point in arguing with a determined bookworm.
We also had a talk about how we should be gentle with books and try not to damage their spines. To this day, I don’t open paperback books flat when I read them, so the spines stay good as new. It may be a strange habit, but I see no reason to break it (or my books!)
Blog Post: Coding Resources for School Librarians (note: the call for submissions deadline in this post is past)