My first job was as a page at the Hennepin County Library. The less formal name was “shelver” lest you think I was paid to be a part of a book. I learned a great deal about books by putting them back on the shelf. I learned even more by working at the front desk in a small branch library, talking to patrons, discussing books, and learning how to deal calmly with irate people. A number of famous people visited the library: there are stories to tell. I received a call-back from the Library and Bridgeman’s (an ice cream parlour) on the same day when I was 16. I will forever be grateful that I took that job at the library. That’s a path I’m glad I’ve walked.
When I started working at the public library when I was 16, shelving books and magazines opened my world. I was attracted to The New Yorker by the cover art. I’ve been reading the magazine ever since then. I am especially grateful when the covers pay homage to books, reading, and libraries.
Gertrude Chandler Warner started writing when she was five years old, in 1895. She wrote The Box-Car Children when she was sick at home, recovering from bronchitis. She wrote a book she wanted to read, believing she would like to live in a caboose. That first Box-Car Children book was published in 1924. Forty years later, I would find it in my elementary school library. That story began a lifelong love of mysteries. They are my go-to stress-relievers, a place for me to get lost in a story. I particularly like a series of mysteries—because I can inhabit that world for a longer period of time. The detectives become memorable people I know well. Warner wrote eighteen books in her series about the Box-Car children. She wrote that first book nearly 100 years ago … and it persists. You can visit her childhood home in Putnam, Connecticut, and tour the Box-Car Children Museum across the street, housed in—what else?—a railroad freight car.