Saturday, September 20, 2008

Nominate Your
Favorite Librarian

We're not afraid to admit it. We love librarians around here. We love them in all shapes and sizes, whether they're stationed at the neighborhood public library, or in a school. Whether they preside over a special collection at a leading medical institution or at a world-renowned museum. You can have your starlets, actresses and supermodels. But we prefer to fantasize about those wondrous creatures and most dedicated of public servants who have lovingly fed our hungry minds and stoked our imaginations. They're sometimes caricatured in our shamelessly anti-intellectual culture as nervous nellies or worse, and many people probably lazily imagine that with the Internet, their jobs will slowly melt away (hardly). Instead, their role is changing but remains no less crucial. For me, they remain uniquely qualifed (along with the winnowing cohort of those who own, manage and work in independent bookstores) to lead people to a lifetime of intellectual growth. And my friend Christine, a former librarian, has often gently reminded me of their special role in doing so for young adults.

Four years ago, in writing about the badly mis-named Patriot Act, we noted librarians' heroic resistance to this most anti-democratic of statutes. "The Congress got stampeded into very nearly repealing the Bill of Rights with near-unanimity. Much of, indeed most of, the media went along at first. All of this went contrary to everything we thought we knew about American democracy and its uniquely inspired series of checks and balances. But someone always seems to step up in this democracy which is now nearing one-quarter of a millenium. In the end, it was liberty-loving groups such as librarians--those often-lampooned ladies who shoosh you for talking too loudly--who had the brass balls that others lacked to resist the Patriot Act. Contrary to their caricature, they emboldened us all to speak up on behalf of protecting our rights."

For all these reasons and more, please consider taking a moment to recognize your favorite librarian for this award. You'll have done your part to celebrate a priceless national resource.
UPDATE: And let us not forget the library itself. This piece--In Praise of the Town Library--nicely says it all.


At 3:01 PM, Blogger Doug Mazanec said...

Thanks for calling attention to our under-appreciated librarians .. due to budget cuts, they have been forced to be both information navigators, social workers, and short-order cooks to our inquisitive minds .. I just hope we keep finding ways to redefine their relevance in the midst of the digital onslaught ... on a private note, I'm pulling for the business librarian at downtown Cleveland Public .... and who's the Jane Russell sweater girl in the pic .. she'll probably get a few votes too

At 4:18 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Doug the infoman, I like that line about short order cooks for our inquisitive minds. A classic. And I second your vote for our friend Maureen the librarian. She's one of the best. As for the Jane Russell look alike, just chalk that one up to the wonders of Google. It seemed appropriate for the subject. Sorry if it sent the signal that all librarians are women, because that's of course not true. Anyway, thanks for the comment. Do come back when the spirit moves you.

At 7:53 AM, Anonymous MilesB said...

Does the librarian in the pic make house calls?

At 11:10 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Perhaps she could bring a book cart around to your house, Miles. I should have known that photo would get some attention.

At 8:31 PM, Anonymous MilesB said...

That would be splendid!

At 9:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing too heady or intellectual, just sheer gratitude for a librarian that squirreled away delicate ancient books for a parent like me looking for a reader for my learning disabled daughter. I was at the library every two weeks with my children for many years and she entrusted those amazing books to me and to my easily discouraged daughter. Long retired, the frail Mrs. Ferguson still gets hugs in the supermarket from a me, a grateful mom with a beautiful grown and literate daughter who is making the world a better place to be by her kind service to the elderly patients she cares for.


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