God Bless Librarians

My father was a high school English teacher, and he attempted to give his children a great appreciation for literature with a capital L.  It worked with my brothers and sister, but for some reason, in my case, it didn’t take.  Me, I was in love with comic books, especially the superhero kind from Marvel and DC.  I loved the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Green Lantern, and the Flash.

All that changed in the summer of my twelfth year.  The instrument of that change was a librarian in a small Ohio town.

I was a Boy Scout then, and in that summer, I decided I wanted to earn the Reading Merit Badge.  One of the requirements for the badge was a period of volunteer labor at my local library.  So I made the arrangements.  On the day I went in to fulfill my obligation, I was put to work date stamping returned books.  This was long before computers, and I used a rubber stamp and an ink pad.  For a while, I sat at the checkout desk, pounding dates in place on slips glued to the inside covers—ka-chunk, ka-chunk, ka-chunk.

After an hour or so, the librarian drifted over and asked the question I was afraid she would ask and therefore knew absolutely she would.  “Kent,” she said, “what do you like to read?”

I thought about lying, but was pretty much into that whole a scout is trustworthy thing, so I told her the truth: I really liked comic books.

She didn’t bat an eye.  She said, “Have you ever read The Count of Monte Cristo?”

I left the library with that Dumas classic under my arm.  And I came back a few days later for The Three Musketeers. After that, it was The Man in the Iron Mask. When I’d gone through everything Dumas had written, I asked the librarian’s advice, and she directed me to H.G. Wells and Jules Verne and Jack London and Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Louis Stevenson.

If you read my work, you’ll see that most of my stories contain a solid element of adventure, something that can be traced back to the influence of those great stories I fell in love with under the guidance of a librarian whose name I have forgotten but whose kind wisdom I have always treasured.

God bless librarians everywhere.

3 thoughts on “God Bless Librarians”

  1. How great that you attribute thanks to a librarian who introduced you to books that you really liked. That was a librarian who was doing her job right! Can’t tell you how much a thing like that warms my heart. It shows that one person can change another’s life, with one small minor move, that makes a big difference. I’m a person who loves to read, and cares about education so that’s why this one got to me.
    Usually, I’ve read your latest by this time in the year, but my intent this year, to ask for it as a Christmas gift. Then I’ll be taking my mental vacation to northern Minnesota over New Years. Can’t wait to read it.

  2. The seventh generation yet to come will be blessed beyond measure, for the inspiration a single librarian gave to you, you are passing down for us who follow. Bravo! Thank you for telling the stories and for reducing my summer air-conditioning bills. (Your books never fail to make me shiver, even in the dry Southern Californian heat)

    SK Dunning

  3. I just finished Northwest Angle and have enjoyed all the books in the series. I am looking forward to the next one. You have taken me to many interesting places in northeastern Minnesota and have introduced me to many people. Sitting on a pier at one of the many lakes and watching the stars on a clear night is on my bucket list.

    Thank you for the nice comments about librarians. I think we are underappreciated.
    I am a reference librarian and work with students who need assistance. They think it all can be found by googling and they are surprised when they realize that the print resources are still an invaluable resource and will continue to be so. I get great satisfaction when someone comes in and tells they can remember the time I helped them.


    David Schau
    Reference Librarian
    Kanawha County Library
    Charleston, WV

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