My deepest thanks to Heather Brown for the following article which ran March 9 in the Labette Avenue. This is one of the most touching tributes I've read. Thank you, Heather!
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The reason I am able to write a book review each week has a lot to do with the people that showed the love of reading in my childhood. Janet Carpenter certainly had a great deal to do with that.
She passed away on Wednesday, March 2, so instead of a book review this week, I wanted to tell you a little about the woman who saw a reader in me when I was small and never let me forget how a book can change your life.
When I was small Mrs. Carpenter would walk by our house on her way to the library, if the weather was nice enough. I would wait patiently on the steps of my house with my books and join her for the remaining block to the library.
We chatted about family, what books I was reading and often about things that made me angry. I was very young but she was a great listener and for that entire block I had this amazing lady all to myself. She would laugh at my silly jokes and gave me sage advice many times on issues in my young life.
I loved an afternoon at the library. I would pour through books and once in a while Mrs. Carpenter would give me on an important job to do--at least she made me feel like they were important. I emptied the book drop, put up magazines, went to the post office and she even allowed me to sit behind the desk several times while she ran an errand. That was a little bit of paradise for this wanna-be librarian.
When I was very small my mom and dad took me to the library and I would find a special book and sit down at that big, round table in the kids' section and start my adventure.
I was known to "read" out loud and although my mom often tried to quiet me, concerned about my fellow library patrons, Mrs. Carpenter loved my story times and assured my mom that it was okay for me to be a little loud.
As I grew up I maintained a true love for the library and the librarian that had cultivated my love of reading all those years. She was never too busy to help me find a book for a report I was writing or to suggest a new book that was right up my alley.
Mrs. Carpenter loved books and the people that read them. Her heart and passion for books was clearly manifested in the careful care and patience she bestowed on all who entered the doors of the library.
She was so well read that she could suggest a book for anyone on the spot. If you wanted a book on reptiles, she could walk right to it. Were you looking for a fluffy romance to read on a rainy day in your cozy living room? She knew the perfect one. She knew what Chilton manual you would need if you were working on a 1980 Chevy truck and would even retrieve it for you. She would have you back on your way to the garage in no time. If you were new to the world of quilting she knew the best book for a beginner and would wish you the best of luck on your project.
To this day I love to go to the library. My favorite time to go is on Tuesday. The library is open late and the beautiful building shines like a beacon in the dark. It's warm and cozy and friendly.
Mrs. Carpenter hasn't been the librarian for many years but her kindness and love for her community lives on in the walls of the Oswego Public Library. Liz and Heather carry on the tradition of warm, helpful staff and love for books. They often have special suggestions for a new book that I might enjoy. I still love my librarians but Mrs. Carpenter will always hold a special place in my heart.
Thank you Mrs. Carpenter for letting me be your shadow even on days when it would have been easier to move alone. Thank you for showing me that books of all genres can be loved and enjoyed and thank you most of all for being a friend.
I'll end with a quote I think Mrs. Carpenter would whole heartedly agree with. "Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest. "
- Lady Bird Johnson