By: Virginia Volkman
For: Red Rock News
Date: May 9, 2014
Library Trustees Reflect on Memories of Mothers and Libraries
With Mother’s Day on their minds, some of the Sedona Library Board members recently shared stories about their mothers and a common theme emerged: how all were first introduced to their local libraries thanks to their mothers. Despite coming from diverse backgrounds, these individuals share similar childhood experiences at their libraries that are still cherished memories.
Pat Jansen, President: When I think about my Mom, I remember her love of reading, her appreciation of books, and her active involvement with the local grammar school library. In the early 1960’s, my Mom began volunteering in the very small and disorganized school library. Over the next several years, she became a paid employee responsible for overseeing and expanding the library. This was long before the Internet and Google, and I remember she thoroughly enjoyed working not only with the staff but also with all the students to teach them to appreciate books and learn to do research to augment their classes. Unfortunately, my Mom passed away a few years later, but I can still recall the overwhelming support and appreciation the school community provided during her devastating illness. She certainly impacted many lives by sharing her love of reading, learning, and libraries throughout our local community.
Anne Uruburu, Past President: After grade school, my mother went to a Ladies Finishing School. When she graduated (equivalent of tenth grade today), she became a stenographer and secretary. She married at age 26 and immediately had four children in five years. There was no time for reading for her, but she knew the importance of reading for “getting a better place in the world.” When each of us kids started first grade, Mom took us to the local library to get our library card— a real treat and the beginning of feeling grownup. Every Saturday for years, my best friend and I would ride our bikes to the library, spending hours poring over the books we wanted that week. Whenever I wanted to get out of the house, if I said I would be going to the library, Mom always approved. Throughout my life, a library has always been a safe haven for me—thanks to my Mom getting me started on a lifelong love of books!
Harvey Bershader, Trustee: I grew up in a very small town of less than one thousand people, but the leaders were quite visionary, creating all types of opportunities one would not expect in a town that size. When a new fire station was built in 1950, the old station was determined to be just the right place to create a library. The people turned out and with their own labor and funding, converted the upstairs space into a small library. My mother and others acted as the librarians, checking out books and adding to the collection with donated books from the townspeople. I would go to the library with my mother, on rainy days, to help her with restacking returned books and sweeping the floor. I was often surprised at how busy the small library was, as it was also a place where people could come and share in the latest gossip. These memories of being a help to my mother are truly special.
Cliff Hamilton, Trustee: A very fond memory of my mother is of her reading to us three kids each night before we went to bed. Dressed in our PJs and all ready for bed, my older brother, younger sister, and I would sit on the living room couch, and Mom would read a chapter or other part of a book to the three of us. We were between 5 and 10 years old, and it was a special way to end the day having Mom read us all a story. Often, the stories came from books we got from the city library in the small eastern Oregon town where we lived.
Paul Schwartz, Trustee: My mother was the oldest child of immigrants, born in New York's teeming Lower East Side in 1914. English was not her first language. Her mother was illiterate and her father read only Yiddish. She learned English cold turkey in public school, read everything she could get her hands on at the public library, and, being very intelligent, did well in school. But the older children of immigrant families in those days were expected to go to work so that the youngest could get an education. This was an unwritten law. My mother was not allowed to finish high school and went to work at age 15. Still, she continued reading all of her life—library books, of course—instilled a love of reading in me, and got me my first library card when I was seven. Incidentally, our library was a one-room storefront next to a Chinese laundry. We called it the "liberry."
We hope you’ve enjoyed these touching and powerful stories. We invite all community members, including families with children of all ages, to create new memories at Sedona Public Library.
The Library is a 501(c)(3) corporation, supported by donations and grants. Pleases consider honoring your mother on Mother’s Day with a donation to Sedona Public Library, 3250 White Bear Road, Sedona, AZ 86336.
Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News and is also presented on Sedona Biz.
Virginia Volkman is Director of the Sedona Public Library.