Memories of Mothers and Libraries
With Mother’s Day on their minds, Sedona Library Board members shared stories about their mothers for a column in 2014. A common theme emerged: how all were first introduced to their local libraries thanks to their mothers.
We’re sharing two of the stories again – one from New York City and one from a very small town in upstate New York. Despite coming from diverse backgrounds, these individuals share similar childhood experiences at their libraries that are cherished memories.
The first was written by Paul Schwartz. He served on the Library’s board of trustees for three years, and he was very active in the community as a preservationist, publisher, musician, writer, and poet. He was, in no uncertain terms, passionate about literature and the written word. Sedona lost a remarkable storyteller when Paul died suddenly in 2018. I hope you enjoy his tribute to his mother:
“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’."
Harvey Bershader shared the next story. Harvey served on the Library’s board of trustees for six years and is currently a member of the Library’s Donor Relations Committee and a volunteer at the Friends of the Library’s book store. Harvey’s commitment to this community is endless and he currently serves on Verde Valley Caregivers' board. This story of his town’s library is similar to Sedona Public Library’s history. I loved talking to Harvey about this and I hope you enjoy reading it:
“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.”
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. And most importantly, Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers who are creating wonderful memories for their children!
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 or online at sedonalibrary.org/donate.
Sedona Public Library
Column for May 8, 2020
Written by Virginia Volkman, Director
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Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News.