Tuesday, May 11, 2010

pacific northwest reader spotlight #11

Do you remember getting your first library card? I don't remember this at all. I do remember the wonder of a place with that many books that you could just take, and I remember harboring great terrors that I would lose a book and have to go to jail or something. Or have to tell my Mom. Who would probably have been as understanding as she was the day I came home from playing with a friend and apparently said something along the lines of, Mommy, guess what, Shannon taught me how you can sneak candy from the Minit Market.

She was very understanding, but I didn't come here to talk about my one brush with petty crime.

Here's Susan Scott's lovely library memory, from her essay "The Wilmot Memorial Library," in The Pacific Northwest Reader...

"At a very tender age - those were simpler times - I was allowed to visit the library alone, since it was so nearby. And when it was time to check my books out, I'd been instructed to explain that my grandad's card was 'there' under the glass - I could barely reach high enough to point - and I was allowed to use it. This worked well unless there was a new employee, who had not yet been introduced to the eccentric borrower down the block, let alone his very young granddaughter. The whole story had to be explained all over again and a co-worker fetched to corroborate, before I'd be allowed to leave with my books...

"Eventually, I asked one of the library ladies if I couldn't have my own card. 'Well, you could,' she said, 'but you'd have to be able to write your name.' Well, that was no problem, I quickly explained - I'd been able to write my name for ages. She looked at me skeptically, but the 4- or 5-year old girl before her could, obviously, write her name and, indeed read, so the form was duly filled out, and on my next visit to my grandparents, I skipped happily down the street to pick up my newly minted Seattle Public Library card. As it was handed over, the librarian told me I was the youngest person in town to have one!"

Susan Scott is lucky enough to have begun her bookselling career at the legendary Books & Co. in New York City, 30 years ago. She is now the manager and buyer at Secret Garden Bookshop in Seattle - but she still checks books out of the library.

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