21 March 2010

Sometimes a Guy Just Has to Shout

This weekend I’m traveling to State College, Pennsylvania, where my aunt Elizabeth Allen is retiring as director of the municipal library system. She’s worked for that system for thirty-seven years, starting as a children’s librarian in charge of a bookmobile and rising to the top job three years later.

Of course, back then the Schlow Memorial Library had only 40% of the employees it now has. State College has been a growing city, and the library grew with it, with more than three times the circulation as in 1976. My aunt Betsy oversaw computerizing the system, and then funding and constructing a new building. The Schlow library is now an anchor in a regional system.

I’ve never lived in central Pennsylvania, but I was one of that library’s grateful patrons. In the summer of 1976, Aunt Betsy let me borrow a big box of later Oz books by Ruth Plumly Thompson and John R. Neill, which then were very hard to find. My first airplane trips on my own were to visit her, and my first long vacation road trip included a stop at State College.

Here’s a list of some of Aunt Betsy’s favorite books, including Charlotte’s Web and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler; her heart is still in the children’s section. Her recommendation of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way reflects her interest in art; she has a great eye for color, and has displayed and sold her crafts.

In another week I’ll resume discussing how the fact that “Robin isn’t evil” took on new meaning in the 1980s.

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