Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture at the St. Louis Public Library. The guest lecturer was Lois Lowry, author of famous YA titles like The Giver and Number the Stars. The lecture that she gave was really awesome. She was asked to make it “scholarly”, and she was able to do so with it being obvious or dry. It was like listening to someone tell a story about her writing career, what experiences and literature influenced her writing, and many anecdotes all wrapped up to make a speech. It’s hard to explain the way that she beautifully crafted her speech, but it was great, just take my word for it.
At the library, they were selling all of her books titles, and as I looked over them, I realized that I had forgotten how many of her books I had read as a kid. I loved the Anastasia Series and I remember going to the YA section of my library to find those books to devour. As I sat and listened to Lowry speak, I began to remember all of these wonderful memories of my childhood public library and my love of reading. I never thought that those experiences would lead me to where I am now, a student in library school; or a patron, sitting and listening to one of my favorite childhood authors speak. I think for many librarians and library school students, these sorts of memories have guided our paths to where we are now.
One of the most memorable quotes from Lowry’s lecture was “Libraries are the repository for our cultural heritage.” She told us a story about her granddaughter having a friend from Germany visiting her, and tell her that libraries were the best thing in America. It always delights me when authors advocate for the library. I know people can buy books anywhere, the internet, bookstore, garage sale, whatever; but when the authors take the time to say “Hey libraries are awesome!!” I just want to give that person a hug. We need advocates from many different arenas and authors have a very powerful voice.
I do want to note that I am not really interested in being a children’s librarian or a public librarian. Why did I go? Not only was it a fun road trip for me and my library school friends, but I think going to extra events like this help make someone a well-rounded librarian. We’re usually not just librarians, we are patrons too. I also truly believe that children’s literacy is very important, and getting kids interested in reading at an early age is an investment in our future. This ties into the idea of Big Tent Librarianship, we’re really more connected than we think. Overall, this experience was great, I got a signed copy of The Giver and later saw Lois Lowry at the hotel bar, hanging out with her friends.