By Liliana Castillo: Freedom New Mexico
The Clovis and Portales libraries and librarians celebrated National Library Week with story times and decorations. But what is behind the decorations and the events? Who are the people who are never seen at the library but are an important part of its processes?
Even librarians lose books, and sometimes get caught up in a book and have to remind themselves of their task. As one myth about librarians goes, librarians don’t have time to sit and read the books they take care of each day. But their love of books and the people that read them is what drives them each day.
Five myths about libraries and librarians.
1. If you work in a library, you have time to sit around and read books.
2. Libraries only have books.
3. Librarians have read every book in the library.
4. If you describe the cover of a book, a librarian will know which book you are referring to.
5. Librarians are all female, over 50 and wear a bun in their hair and glasses.
Source: Clovis-Carver Public Library staff
Angela Richards, a technical services assistant at the Clovis-Carver Library, processes new books and mends old books. The book in the worst condition was an old art book.
“I had to tape every page. Older books were bound instead of glued,” Richards said. “With time string breaks and glue comes undone.”
Richards said she has to remind herself when she’s processing books not to read them.
Scott Jones catalogues book at the Clovis-Carver Public Library. Jones inputs information about each new book the library receives into their computer system, including the Dewey Decimal number for each book.
There are 10 classes, 100 divisions and 1,000 sections in the Dewey Decimal system. Though Jones has a good grasp on the system, he sometimes needs a little help in the form of four thick, blue hardback reference books above his computer. One of the books contains tables, one an index and the other two are a breakdown of the classes, divisions and sections in the Dewey Decimal system.
Marilyn Belcher, the Clovis-Carver Public Library director, has a list of duties. She makes the budget, buys books and coordinates employees. But her favorite thing to do is to open all the new books that come in.
“I just like new books,” Belcher said. “I like to see what comes in so we’re familiar with what is on the shelf. It’s the relaxing part of the job.”
Belcher has worked at the library for more 20 years and said even librarians return books late.
“I’ve lost a couple of books and found them and said, “Oops,’” Belcher said. “It happens.”
Linda Harrison coordinates inter-library loans at the Clovis-Carver Public Library.
“If someone wants a book we don’t have, we enter it into a database and it tells us what libraries have it,” Harrison said.
Libraries across the nation are connected through this database, Harrison said. She coordinates the exchange of books from the libraries. The library sends books all over the country if they have a book another library needs.
Heather Christensen is the Youth Services Librarian at the Portales Public Library. She coordinates all the programming and book ordering for the children and teen sections of the library. Her five favorite books are:
• “To Kill a Mockingbird”
• “The Book Thief”
• “The Snowy Day”
• “James and the Giant Peach”
• and whatever she’s reading now.
Tawna Luscombe, the circulation supervisor for the Portales library, is a fan of the Dewey Decimal system.
“I think it’s organized and easy to use,” Luscombe said. “But when people are looking for their book, they aren’t looking for a subcategory. They just want their book.”
Though the patrons of the library don’t use the system, the librarians find it essential, Luscombe said. She said the numbers pinpoint the book in the library for her so she can find it for a patron.
Eloise Symonds works as a page at the Portales Public Library. Her job mainly consists of shelving books in the adult section. Her favorite book is “The Turquoise Mask” by Phyllis Whitney.
“I read it back in the 70s and it sparked me into wanting to read more,” Symonds said.
Symonds was an English major and said she had been burned out on reading. But “The Turquoise Mask” reignited her passion for reading.
Natalie Salaz has worked at the Portales Public Library as a circulation clerk for a year. She checks books in and out, helps them find books and use the public computers, as well as processing new books that come in.
“I like the relaxed vibe of the library. It’s not stress work,” Salaz said.
But the best part of her job, Salaz said, are the new people she gets to meet each day.
Denise Burnett is the library director for the Portales Public Library. She started her career as a children’s librarian 22 years ago. Burnett recalls walking in her first day, arriving at the back door where stacks of books were located, and taking a deep breath.
“I smelled the books and it was just a relaxing home feeling. I knew that this is what I wanted to do at that moment,” Burnett said.
Burnett said the recipe for a good librarian is to love libraries, books, public service, kids and people to name a few things.