Posted by Library Director, Curren McLane:
With five years of memories to choose from, it’s almost impossible to narrow them down to just a few. But I’ve been giving this some thought and here are some of my favorites (in no particular order):
1. Several years ago a young mother and her 1st grade daughter approached me while I was working. The expression on the mother’s face told me she was in dire need of help before she even had a chance to ask. It turned out that she was responsible for making a costume for her daughter’s school play. All the kids in the play had to dress up as animals, and her daughter had chosen to be a praying mantis! The mother couldn’t even remember what a praying mantis looked like, much less think of how to make a costume of one. So together we found a stack of books that contained praying mantis costumes and talked about ideas and, feeling a little better, they went home to get started. Several weeks later I ran into the mother during one of her visits to the library and she had a picture of her daughter in costume. The daughter looked amazing! I could tell exactly what she was supposed to be and she was beaming in the photo. The mother was so appreciative of my help. I was just doing my job, but seeing that adorable girl so proud of her homemade costume made me so proud. To this day that memory brings a smile to my face.
2. In 2011 the Library hosted an adult literacy/ESL (English as a second language) class, taught by volunteers. One of the Spanish speaking students asked for extra help, and a very generous volunteer offered to meet with her once a week at the library for one-on-one tutoring. The class ended after a few months, but the volunteer and student continued to meet diligently every week at the library for two hours. Every so often I would see the student in the library and chat with her and I would always remark how much her English was improving. Fast forward to this month when I ran into the student and teacher during one of their tutoring sessions. The student was so proud to tell me that she recently passed her citizenship test and was now an American citizen! She said that it would not have been possible without the help of her dedicated tutor, and the use of the library. It was so gratifying to know that the library could serve as a place for such an important endeavor, and I was so proud of all that she had accomplished.
3. Until 2012 the Azle Library had only held summer reading for children. I had been wanting to start an adult summer reading program for adults, so when our Adult Services Librarian, Meg, approached me with plans to start the program, I was all for it. It was great seeing how excited adults were about summer reading – some of them were just as excited as the kids! The summer ended with a finale party for the adult participants. It was so cool to see the adults win prizes and talk about the books they had read. And why shouldn’t they? Reading is for everyone! This summer will be our third annual summer reading program for adults; fourth annual summer reading program for teens; and about the millionth summer reading program for children (I’ve lost count at this point, but they’re always fun!).
4. This next one isn’t so much one memory, but a culmination of memories. I spend a lot of time in my office while I am at work. Numerous times each a day a staff member will call my office phone and say that a patron would like to speak to me. Sometimes patrons want to speak to me about a fine they want to dispute, or they just have a question, but occasionally it’s because they have a story to tell me about a library memory. I absolutely love hearing these stories! I’ve heard stories from long time residents who remember the library back when it was located in previous buildings. I’ve heard memories about the cat that used to live in the library when we were located by city hall. Just today a woman, who recently moved here from east Texas, said she had never heard anything about Azle before she moved except that we had an amazing library! If news about our library has spread across the entire state of Texas we must have something pretty special here! I can’t wait to hear more stories in the future.
5. One of the neat things about working in a library is you get to recognize and know the “regular” patrons who come visit the library every week (or sometimes more often). It is wonderful to see children grow as they visit the library year after year. I’ve had the opportunity to watch kids go from reading picture books, to bigger chapter books. I’ve seen high school kids who used to do homework in the library go off to college to start their own adult lives. I’ve even had the chance to see babies go from entering the library in a stroller, to being able to walk and pick out their own books. Someday I hope these children will look back and have fond memories of their library visits. They may not remember me specifically, but I will certainly remember them!