Saturday, November 17, 2012

Return to Reading

I used to think I wanted to be a librarian. It all started at the Perry Carnegie Library which had some daunting steps for a four year old in a smocked dress. A woman stood on the lean-to ladder pulling down a book. I want to work here, I told my mother, after I began to know the scope of a day in the alcoves of the library. Along with the numbered volumes, I loved the sunlight, wood, ceiling fans. It was a temple in our mundane little town.
I made it through many tests and tight places by the book. In the presence of a book, I was safe from awkwardness. If I’d had a better book on sex, that would have helped a lot. As it was, I married young and read the Russians when my babies took a nap.  I read the Beats. I read the war resisters and the early feminists. Eventually I had to get a job. To avoid the rigors of the cash register, I went back to school. I thought I would make a good librarian.
My grad school application essay spoke of search engines, venn diagrams, Boolean logic. I’d been warned: these days, for heaven’s sake, don’t expound upon your love of books; that’s démodé. Linked bibliographies, collection development by algorithm, self check out scanner, pro and con. People used to say: how fun to be a librarian with all those books. Books were deep background. Information was on the rise. 
So I became a librarian just in time to usher in a multitude of databases, a cyber age, techno savvy research, reading with an eye to cut and paste.  I made a living. I still liked the sunlight coming in the atrium and the cart of recent acquisitions. Eventually I had a nice big office.
Now I am a recovering librarian, recovering my lifetime love: novels, poems, histories and geographies good enough to read cover to cover more than once.  I have a great support group, my avidly irreverent, funny, and opinionated book club. I have wonderful book buddies. I can be completely random in my reading. And if I get too compulsive, or heavy on the you-have-to-read- this-book, my friends forgive me. I’m a recovering librarian and a reader born-again.

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