Thursday, June 23, 2011

Keeper of Thousands of Tales

Samantha Sherburne is a Simmons College intern at the Memorial Memorial Library. Read her column in the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin.

When I was a child, visiting my local library was a weekly event. I would carefully select which books and movies to bring home and spend the next week with. The library was a place filled with stories and I envied the Children’s Librarian, whom I viewed as the keeper of these thousands of tales.

As a teenager in high school the school library became a home base for me. I would find any excuse possible to spend time in the library - working on term papers, studying for tests, or reading. The librarian knew me well, and we would spend time discussing the latest book I was reading or he would suggest something for me to jump into next.

Despite these wonderful and positive experiences with libraries and the librarians who made such big impacts on my life, I didn’t take the steps towards becoming a librarian myself until I graduated from college. Now I am a student in the GSLIS program at Simmons College and will begin my final semester this September. My hope is to become a Children’s Librarian, working with young children and teenagers to help foster a love for reading and give them a safe and welcoming place to spend time in.

While I grew up frequenting my town’s public library, then spending time in the school library, and staying up late studying for finals in my college library, I still had no experience with working in a library. During my second semester at Simmons, in the summer of last year, I was enrolled in one of the core courses of my program, Principles of Management. A key assignment in this course was to contact the director of a library of your choice and then conduct an interview to learn more about the job of a library director and the various styles of management we were learning about in class.

The director I contacted was Charlotte Canelli, the director of the Morrill Memorial Library. The library in Norwood has been a favorite building of mine for the past few years, since I moved to the area. I was in awe the first time I recognized the last names of famed authors and poets engraved in the stone on the outside of the building. The inside of the library is just as lovely and the material collections have something for every type of reader. For these reasons, when I had to think of a library director to talk with, I immediately thought “Norwood!”

From my interview with Director Canelli I learned all about how the library runs and the amount of work that goes into providing as many materials as possible for as many people as possible. Following the interview, I was offered the opportunity to be an unpaid intern at the library. At the time, Simmons had yet to begin an official internship course, and I knew the experience I could gain by learning from the librarians in Norwood would be invaluable to me. For the past ten months I have been coming to the library every week to spend time in the many different departments that operate in the library.

Now I am enrolled in the internship course Simmons initiated this Spring, and will complete 120 hours at the library from May through July, working to further grow my understanding of the many responsibilities the librarians have here.

When I began interning last September I was amazed to learn how many departments exist in the Morrill Memorial Library, many that I hadn’t heard about before. For instance, I hadn’t known about Outreach Services, a department that brings books and other materials to patrons who are unable to come to the library on their own. I also hadn’t known about the Literacy Department, which pairs up volunteer tutors with adult learners who wish to improve their English skills or who are working towards their GED or Citizenship tests. I’ve learned the amount of care that goes into selecting books and songs for children’s storytimes, and the energy needed to carry them out. It seems that every day that I am at the library I am learning something new about a department, a specific job, or the building itself.

The librarians and staff members have been welcoming, knowledgeable, and open to share everything they know, experiences they have had, and answering any questions I have about how things are done in the library. Even before my internship, when I would come to the library as a patron, doing research for class or browsing the stacks for a good book to read, I felt very welcome, and the Reference librarians were always ready and willing to help me locate the materials I needed to complete school projects. If you have not yet been to the Morrill Memorial Library, or it has been a while since your last visit, I would recommend dropping in and enjoying the building, its resources, and the people who make it great.

Being a part of the library community in Norwood and working as an intern here has reminded me of those wonderful memories of a childhood spent in libraries and immersed in books, and has confirmed that I have chosen the absolute best career in the world to pursue.

Visit the library's website,, or visit the library in person at 33 Walpole Street, Norwood, MA