Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Looking Back

At this time of year, as the days shorten, it seems that our memories lengthen, sending us back to thoughts of our earlier years. For many members of the Friends of the CPL, those memories include a library somewhere.  Eva Adler, one of the Friends' board members shares her memories of ...

My First Librarian

If you take the interior stairs down to the Children’s Room at the Lake Placid Library, you will pass a portrait of Mrs. Florence S. Lamb, librarian from 1949-1961. I arrived in this country in 1956 at the age of eight with no previous knowledge of the English language. Mrs. Lamb was one of the most influential people in my acculturation.

During my five years in Lake Placid I visited the library often, and I usually found Mrs. Lamb sitting at a table facing the entrance door so that she could acknowledge each child who entered. She always greeted me with enthusiasm - I am so happy to see you dear! – and always with a compliment – I love your pretty dress. In the early days, she recommended the beginning readers in the Bobbsey Twins series. I read every one of them and was especially mesmerized by The Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore. I had never seen the sea. As I grew, Mrs. Lamb suggested the life stories of famous people. That hooked me on biographies for life. At the time I was under the spell of childhood prodigies and insisted on dressing like Mozart for Halloween. I can assure you that no one has worn a Mozart costume in the elementary school parade before or since!

I left Lake Placid at the age of twelve, one year before Mrs. Lamb retired. Although I made frequent visits to the town, I did not often return to the library until I had children of my own. Then, on every return trip we spent long sessions in the children’s room. They sat in the same little rocking chairs overlooking the lake in which I had read my first books in English, and I would tell them stories about Mrs. Lamb and my trips to the library. I still visit Lake Placid on a regular basis – fifty-five years after I met my first librarian – and on these occasions I take my two grandchildren through the main room, past Mrs. Lamb’s portrait, and down the stairs to that very room that opened onto the lake and to my new world.

You can find other reminiscences of reading, books, libraries and the characters who populate them in our book Cambridge Voices: A Literary Celebration of Libraries and the Joy of Reading, available at Porter Square Books, Harvard Book Store, and Nomad.

There are always great things happening at the library! For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends of the Cambridge Public Library click here.

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