Read or learned or picked up

The public library at Dexter, Maine is historic but up to date.  June, 2012

The public library at Dexter, Maine is historic but up to date. June, 2012

“One of the great joys of being a librarian is that it is the last refuge of the renaissance person — everything you have ever read or learned or picked up is likely to come in handy.”GraceAnne DeCandido

Sometimes I think the term “renaissance person” is too loosely used in the modern sense, as an overly glorified label for people whose energies and interests are so scattered that they never focus on any one thing long enough to get really good at it.  But for those of us who are that way, being a librarian is a great way to tie it all together.  There’s not a topic or field you can think of that doesn’t have something to do with a library somewhere; not a reference question out there that might not be asked of a librarian.

When I came home from my first day of graduate school, having chosen library and information studies out of a number of potential majors, I told Jeff with great certainty: “This is the career I was born for.”  At graduation, in a parody of the oft-quoted phrase,  I joked, “Jack of all trades, Master of Library and Information Studies.”

However, given that I’ve worked relatively few years as a librarian, a parallel truth has been more relevant for me: everything I read or learned or picked up in library school has come in handy in my everyday life, in ways too numerous to count.  Being a librarian is primarily a matter of knowing how to find information, and make it accessible and useful.  That’s a valuable skill, whether one is a parent, spouse, homemaker, travel planner, caregiver, investor, writer, or blogger.

The great thing is, you don’t have to go to library school to avail yourself of the riches found in any public library.  Your librarian is there to help you learn to help yourself, empowering you to find any information you might need or want.  Whatever you do best, or want to learn to do, can be improved, explored, expanded and enjoyed through the resources of your library.

Learning is a great way to defeat despair, so I hope you will take some time to discover what’s available at a library near you.  Even if you just spend a couple of hours in relaxed, unfocused browsing, you’ll have fun — and you probably will find some information that is likely to come in handy!

One year ago today:

Gather and transform


  1. sarvjit

    That’s true! Books have a special language. That language is only in books. Books, without moving or speaking, change us from deep within.

    • There is a saying here that I have posted on my refrigerator door, “Libraries change lives.” I am deeply grateful that we have books so readily available to us!

  2. raynard

    Julia I think the that saying was “Jack of all trades”, master of none” I digress. I still remember the librarian that I first met in grade school after leaving my bookbag at the bus stop with library books in them. She didnt make me pay for them and then I got interested in “Terrariums”, Cars”( future like the Jetsons) and the Space program.While these days it’s been awhile since my wife and i went on a date to the library and the ice cream after.Remember the episode of Steinfeld” was dating a librarian and her boss was chasing Jerry down for a overdue book from back in H.S. The book was “The Tropic of Cancer” lol I think that is a true place a island in the pacific.(Thank you Google)Yesterday by the way was a great day. I got my flower show picture loaded and ready to share with you. So stand by. be blessed

    • Yes, that’s the saying I was adapting. I’m glad you had a nice librarian and not “the Librarian from the Black Lagoon” made famous by the children’s book of the same title. I never watched Seinfeld but Jeff and our sons did, and they loved it. That would be hilarious about the overdue book. I have read news stories of people getting arrested for out of control library fines, but it’s a bit hard to believe! I am so glad you enjoyed the flower show. I’ll look forward to your photos!

  3. Julia, hello! Libraries, my favorite place to visit. (I would enjoy Raynaud’s flower show) 🙂
    I enjoy reading but in my retirement days…24/7…seems to be filled with things to do.
    This evening is rare, where I just browse the computer…similar to browsing in a library. Except here in my recliner.~/
    Poteau recently built a new state of the art library…it is great Library. We’re so proud of it!

    • Merry, I’m so happy to hear you have a nice new library to enjoy! Jeff and I always check out the local libraries when we are moving and looking for a place to live. It has so much to do with our quality of life. Isn’t it funny how life seems to get BUSIER as we get older? But the good part is, the things we are busy with get a little more fun (at least for me it has been that way). I too appreciate being able to browse the computer as in a library. We all are rich in so many ways! BTW Merry, I hope to be posting a photo from the flower show that Raynard sent me today. It looks to be a fabulous show.

      • Great. I’ll look forward to it. thanks.

        • Merry, assuming Raynard gives me permission, I will post one or two of them here on Monday’s post about flowers – it will go with the theme. 🙂

  4. What a nice piece of architecture that is. I Googled to see if I could find more info, like date built. I came across this postcard from 1913. So that’s kind of fun

    Also, there are some fun old postcards of Dexter here

    I’m convinced you choose the absolute perfect major Julia. I can’t imagine anyone else being so capable of making literature relatable. It’s the way you take a complex yet well known quote I may have heard often and give it meaning. To a casual reader like myself, it’s always an awakening. If you and I were reading together, you’d probably hear me say, “ooooh, yes, I see’. 😀

    It seems your libraries a funded so much better than ours. I’ve had my library card since high school and regrettably I see it getting dismal. The library closet to our home is pretty good because it’s the Main Edmonton Library. But other communities aren’t as lucky. I think it’s great that Dexture has obviously invested in theirs over many years.

    • Wow, how cool that you found those postcards. The town really hasn’t changed that much – I’ll try to post a photo here that is similar to that postcard. It’s a charming little town. On the postcard page you linked, the card of Elkinstown Point looks surprisingly like the place from which I took this photo; I’ll bet it’s the same area.

      The libraries in the USA vary dramatically, with some getting good funding and others not. As Alys can probably tell you, the San Jose library is FABULOUS (or used to be when we lived there) especially for educators; they had the best collection there for teachers and parents of K-12 students that I’ve ever seen. Different libraries have different strengths; the little library near our York home (in Poquoson) is one of the best user-centered libraries in the state and I can never get out of there in less than 30 minutes, it seems, even when I’m supposedly just dropping something off! Jeff and I noticed that Maine seems to have the best small-town libraries of any state we’ve ever been in. We saw at least five or six of them and all were delightful.

      Thanks for your compliments. As always you are generous and kind! 🙂 Reading is a great joy to me and I’m just happy if anyone wants to listen to me talk (or read my writing) about it.

  5. LB

    What a beautiful library in Dexter. My son and I sent spent hours at libraries and it was the first place we would visit whenever we moved to a new place. Then he grew up and my bibliophile tendencies had me buying books rather than borrowing.
    I need to get back to the library!!

    • Hi LB, I find that my library use tends to curtail my book buying, but not eliminate it completely. What I love about the library is that I can check anything out free, so there’s no decision making process as with buying a book (I tend to over-think everything). 🙂 I wish Virginia was like California with respect to libraries; any California resident used to be able to get a library card at ANY public library in the entire state, which would come in handy for those who travel a lot. They also have amazing inter-library cooperative systems; I could go online there and request an item from the collection of any one of over a dozen library systems in Northern California, and have the book delivered to the local library within days. But even without those perks, libraries are the best deal around, no doubt about it! I hope you re-discover the joy of browsing soon! Thanks for being here.

  6. Well as you know, I love libraries, big and small, and once thought I too would become a librarian. I volunteered in the library in grade school and middle school, and certainly spent a lot of time in one in college.

    In the age of Google, my boys may never know what it’s like to look at microfilmed articles, or to drag out a dusty copy of a book from the reserves.

    I see card catalogs re-purposed in all sorts of ways.

    Sadly, our local funding is so poor now that our neighborhood library is only open 4 days a week. At lease one library is open throughout San Jose, so it isn’t all gloom and doom, but it’s made it harder to know when to go.

    That is a gorgeous library.

    • I remember being stunned and awed by the main library in San Jose. I’m sad to hear that funding has suffered, but of course, it has been cut back pretty much everywhere. Someday microfilm and huge reference volumes will sound to future generations the way scrolls sound to us now! I remember being amused to learn in library school that the earliest libraries contained jars (which held scrolls) instead of shelves. And before that, probably there was a cave somewhere with paintings on the wall, sort of like a visitor’s center of the prehistoric age :-).

      I do like those neat little card catalog cabinets, and the way those cards had the aroma of research (which I’m sure some thought of more as an ODOR).

      So you became a librarian after all, with your Little Free Library! But if you decide to go back to school, San Jose State has a very highly regarded library school with lots of course options. I’d love to sneak back into a library school someplace and audit a “modern” class (20 years ago is ANCIENT in terms of information science) and see how librarians are dealing (if at all) with the indexing/abstracting/cataloging aspects of online collections such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, blogs and other social media, to say nothing of all the recent ethical dilemmas raised by the brave new world of digitization. While others might think librarians are becoming obsolete, to me I see them as being more needed than ever, albeit in different roles.

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