A great library can only exist with the efforts of a great librarian, someone who leads and provides an example to the staff and who lives and breathes their collection.
I applaud when blogs and newspapers spotlight librarians who provide a unique service to their towns and cities. In the case of Glen Creason, map librarian, his familiarity with the public library’s city map collections are tested by patron’s reference questions on the regular. The hidden story of L.A. found in the 100,000-plus maps have led to exhibits and articles. Creason’s 2010 book “Los Angeles in Maps” tells an illustrated history of 469 square miles of metropolis.
From Los Angeles Times:
“People always say, ‘Why is Los Angeles so spread out?’ and there’s so many reasons for that,” Creason says. “The streetcar lines were basically created by people who were going to make a lot of money selling real estate and that meant connecting everything that they could.
“These things that are reflected on these maps are either to make railways where you’re going to sell real estate along the path, you’re going to control water, you’re going to have movie studios, you’re going to sell the land to the rubes, and you portray Los Angeles as a garden.”
Another article I liked came from the blog at ModCloth an e-commerce site.”Renegade” librarian Megan Prelinger opened the Prelinger Library in San Francisco in 2004 with her husband Rick Prelinger. Their library came from a desire to build a community around an eccentric collection of books, periodicals, ephemera, government documents, and zines. In the library a neon sign reads “Free Speech, Fear Free.” The library stays true to that mantra. Many of their items are viewable for free on the Internet Archive and the library invites all people to research for free, they’re open Wednesdays.
“I started out pursuing a career as an indie historian, trying to determine what it would mean to write or understand history based on resources that were different from what was in mainstream libraries,” she says. “I started with the idea of doing new historical research based on found and forgotten materials.” “When I graduated, I didn’t really want to go back to school,” says Megan. “I wanted to go on field trips and road trips around the U.S. — which I did, and I started finding and collecting things in used bookstores and the backs of gas stations.”
The two articles about standout librarians in California make me stoked for the attention hard working professionals bring to our field.
Images from Los Angeles Times and ModCloth.