VALib v56n3 - Openers by Lyn C. A. Gardner

"I’m a librarian.” Despite slashed budgets and the increasing popularity of e-books, it’s a phrase that can still hold an almost mystical power. While on a recent quest for a new abode, I rediscovered firsthand the warmth of feeling that many of our citizens hold for their libraries. One apartment manager instantly began telling me stories about her favorite branch and staff in our city system, and chuckled appreciatively over the logic of my need for plenty of wall-space for all my books. Another concluded our tour with a request for advice about marketing his poetry book to other librarians, seeing me automatically as a friend and ally to authors. That particular visit concluded with the gift of his book for my library.

… I rediscovered firsthand
the warmth of feeling that
many of our citizens hold
for their libraries.

Though taken off guard by the enthusiasm that greeted my profession, I should not have been surprised: quite a number of cities have been thankful to be able to preserve their libraries due to the efforts and staunch support of citizens, and my own system has much to be grateful for in this regard. Despite our own fears for the future of our profession, and despite the editorials of naysayers who have not set foot in a library in years, it would seem that for many citizens, libraries still hold deep relevance and meaning.

In addition to the warmth of strangers, I have to say that one of my favorite recent reactions came from my five-year-old niece. She had mentioned a recent visit to her branch of the library, and I reminded her where I worked. Then we discussed her mother’s job over-seeing water quality control for the air force, which I assured her was very important. My niece promptly informed me with a glowing face that my job putting books in the library “is very important too, Aunt Lyn!” Though it may seem an ordinary moment, I have seldom been more glad of my profession.

When I began library school, I worked at The Mariners’ Museum Library, and despite the thrill I get now from facilitating patron access to materials in my role as catalog librarian (with a touch of acquisitions), I must confess that special collections have always been my first love. We’re calling now for help from those who currently have the privilege to work with special libraries and archives: please consider submitting an article or interview for our upcoming themed issue on special collections. With an extended deadline of October 1, this issue will be published as Volume 56, Number 4, October/November/December 2010. We would love to hear from you and share both your insights into working with special collections and some glimpses of the wonders and rarities of your collections themselves.

Finally, the editors wish to clear up the confusion that may have resulted from our recognition of books recommended for reading by the Jefferson Cup Committee in issue one of 2010. We listed Ray Daves as the author of Radioman: An Eyewitness Account of Pearl Harbor and World War II in the Pacific , based on the WorldCat record for the book. Carol Edgemon Hipperson contacted us to say that she was the author, and she is, in fact, listed as the author on the cover of the book and on the publisher’s website. She has our sincere apologies. VL