As a little girl growing up in South Norwood, I was fortunate to have two library sources in my neighborhood. One was in the Balch Elementary school; the second was the little South Norwood branch of the Morrill Memorial Library.
I loved to visit the little library in my neighborhood;due to lack of transportation, I did not have the opportunity to visit the main branch that often. Before I was old enough to be allowed to travel on the MBTA bus on my own, I would just check out a book, and start reading it on the walk home. I can’t remember what age I was when the branch closed, but it was a sad time for the residents in the area.
When my older daughter Lauren, now age twenty-three, started Kindergarten at the Balch School, I wanted to be actively involved at her school. I was limited to a few volunteer opportunities at that time due to my pregnancy with my younger daughter Jessica. Once Jessica was born, I happily jumped in to help with fundraising opportunities with the PTO, but also wanted to help in the library.
Lo and behold, my former librarian from my own childhood at the Balch was the library assistant. Mrs. Mary Pudsey, still as sweet as ever, was there to show me the ropes. Mary Burnell was the librarian and the three of us soon forged a wonderful working relationship. These lovely ladies were so enthusiastic about building the foundation of reading with youngsters. Library time for most students was a special time each week, first having a carefully selected book read aloud by the librarian, then an opportunity to choose a book to bring home and read.
Sadly at the time of budget cuts, the library assistant positions were cut and Mary Burnell moved on to the Willett School, I then was in the company of another great librarian, Lora Roberts. She was eager and enthusiastic. No longer having a library assistant, she needed to fill and extra pair of shoes; hence the need for more volunteers. Many parents stepped up to the plate to help her and we had a very well-run and organized library. We did have a few setbacks with a renovation and expansion, as well as a flood shortly after the renovation; after a short hiatus, we rallied to the rebuild the library once again.
Being the more senior volunteer at the library, I was given the privilege to assist Ms. Roberts with the first graders checking out their very first books. Each child was given a shelf marker with his or her name on it. They were told when they take a book off the shelf; they were to place their marker there in order to mark the place on the shelf for correct placement of the book. Some of the youngsters knew exactly what type of book he or she was looking for. Others were a bit overwhelmed, not sure which book to borrow. I would love to step in and ask what was of was on interest to them. Once the selection had been made, the child would have to sign his or her name and understand that the book needed to be returned the following week during library time. Also the importance of taking good care of the book was explained. A book is a special item that needed to be safe guarded so the next child in school could borrow and enjoy it as well.
Fast forward forty years, I still live in the neighborhood I grew up in, the South Norwood branch of the library closed many, many years ago, but I now work at the Morrill Memorial Library. One of my favorite tasks in the Circulation Department is to issue library cards; whether it is a new comer to town, someone who hasn’t been to the library in many years, but most importantly, a youngster receiving a card for the very first time. I truly enjoy making that moment in time an event to remember. Once the card is issued, I tell the young child to then visit the Children’s Librarian in order to receive a special token.
Young or old, please feel free to come visit us. We have so much to offer our patrons, not just with books, but with DVDs, CDs, Audiobooks, Periodicals as well as the latest technology with E-books and Freegal, our new music downloads.