What I do at the library: I have worked at Dole Branch since 2006. My job is energizing for me, as I feel that whatever I think is important, or fun, is possible. There are very few jobs where one has this feeling. I have volunteered much of my life in a variety of ways, and have always wondered about what could make the world a better place. Freedom, acceptance, possibilities, caring, and learning are all part of what attracts me to libraries.
Since March 2010 I have led two book groups at Dole: the Brown Bag book group, which reads international mysteries, and Read & Reflect, which reads all kinds of nonfiction books. Twice this year we have gone on "field trips" with these groups. We saw The Mousetrap in Skokie's Northlight Theater, and in April we went (13 of us) to Milwaukee's Chamber Theater to see a Jeeves and Wooster play, Jeeves Takes a Bow.
On a day-to-day basis, I love checking in materials, as this is an opportunity for me to see what's new. I'm the slowest checker, as I have to check out what the reviews say about any given interesting title that passes my way.
How I turn outward in my everyday work: In 2011 two patrons were discussing with me the Debbie Macomber book where she mentions a volunteer knitting project, Warm Up America! The idea is to come together and knit items for the homeless. In this way, the library's Yarns and Yarn club began. We have donated items to various charities, shelters, hospitals, and nursing homes. We have also driven around dispersing backpacks with toiletries, food, gloves, hats, and scarves for homeless folks at Christmastime and Valentine's Day. Yarns and Yarn volunteered to work with the library’s teen volunteers last summer creating plarn (plastic yarn) bags and pads. This year we will work together again making potholders, dishrags, and trivets for Sarah's Inn.
My favorite "hidden library gem": This year we began a genealogy club at Main. We have had two successful meetings so far. We have planned the year with a unique schedule: one month we’ll do lab work with help when needed, one month we’ll have a professional speaker, and one month we’ll host a meet-up for folks to share what they're doing and what they've found.
I would love to make the library available to more people. Recently, a couple in their seventies came in with their two young grandkids and applied for library cards. The man told me that he last had an Oak Park Public Library card in the 1950s (he went to Whittier Elementary School and still lives near Dole), and his wife last had a card in the 1970s. They are excited that we have storytime for young children, and playtime too! I feel that there are many people who could benefit from visiting the library. Also, I am a believer in the value of community, and the library is a great place for people to get that experience.
My favorite thing about Oak Park: Whoever you are, whatever your beliefs, you can find support somewhere in this village. If you have a lot of time, I can share some of these experiences!
What I’m reading, listening to, and watching now: I am currently reading a mystery, Inspector Singh Investigates: A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder. It’s written by Shamini Flint, an East Indian lawyer who was raised in England. Her protagonist is an Indian man from Singapore, sent to Malaysia to help an expat accused of murder.
Behind the Gates of Gomorrah by Stephen Seager, Reckoning at Eagle Creek by Jeff Biggers, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, and The Hundred Year House by Rebecca Makkai are some of the other books I'm now reading. I really enjoyed the book Grandma Gatewood's Walk by Ben Montgomery.
Two mysteries we especially enjoyed in the Brown Bag book club were Erin Hart's Haunted Ground and Ann Cleeves’ Raven Black. They are well plotted and interesting, with many cultural details.
I just watched the Australian film Mental, and it's a hoot. Today I'm bringing home The Hundred-Foot Journey. I often recommend two videos we have at Dole, Searching for Sugar Man and Life on Four Strings. I love to share the inspiration I experience through all the various media we have in the library.
(May 22, 2015)