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The Awe-Inspiring and Motivational: Two Librarians And A Microphone Podcast

Episode 2 of Season 4 includes a look into some of the wonderfully inspirational things that happen behind library doors.
Warning! This episode has all the feels. Because great things are bound to happen when you give people access to information and knowledge that helps enrich their lives.
A few awe-inspiring and motivational moments we captured:
  • Older patrons going out of their way to help younger patrons learn
  • An elderly laborer visiting the library every week to earn his GED
  • The excitement and joy of children getting their very first library card 




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Jim Heuer [00:00:12] Hey everybody, this is Jim Heuer, Director of Sales for Ingram Library Services, and we're here for Episode Two, Season Four of our podcast series Two Librarians and a Microphone. I'm once again joined by the two librarians in this scenario. Welcome, Tricia Bengel.

Tricia Bengel [00:00:30] Hey everybody.

Jim Heuer [00:00:31] And Donna George. Welcome, Donna.

Donna George [00:00:33] Hey, y'all.

Jim Heuer [00:00:34] So, if you were listening to our last episode, our new season, Season Four of this podcast is, "Things I didn't learn in library school," or a paraphrase, "What I wish I had learned in library school." "It would've been great if I learned that in library school…why didn't anyone tell me that in library school?!" All these different themes. In our first episode, we centered around things that we had observed, we’ve been told by our librarian customers and our pals of the "unusual and interesting." We think that will continue, we think we are…we're going to continue on with this as a theme, the next one, the next series, Episode Two is the "awe-inspiring and motivational". We think that's also kind of a fun theme here. Before I turn it over to our two librarians for some of the stuff that they have found out, I'll just tell a quick story. I live in suburban Cleveland, there was a recent, I guess, interaction, at the Shaker Heights Public Library. One of the patrons, a school child was there doing, asking a librarian for some information on Shirley Chisholm, first African-American congresswoman, etc. As they were talking, the patron and the librarian, another patron overheard, came up, and just so happened to have the Shirley Chisholm commemorative stamp that everything had been issued by the Post Office, and interjected into the conversation, and gave that to the patron, right? Those are things I think that only happen in the library, right? That's some cool stuff if you ask me. I saw that on Twitter and I thought

Jim Heuer [00:02:16] it was a really interesting piece. That's the type of awe-inspiring and motivational stuff that we've been talking to some of our customers about. Donna, what do you think? What are some of the stories or some of the interactions that you had about librarians and awe-inspiring motivation?

Donna George [00:02:35] Well, one of the stories we got, I love this one and I think a lot of us can share in this ingenuity. She says, "How to design six months of preschool crafts with a budget of nothing, and a cabinet full of ancient stickers." She's really talking about a kind of children's work there, and I think a lot of the problems that a lot of the libraries face with budget woes and shortage of materials, and how do you make your job interesting and fun, and so forth? She says, "It's also important to be able to do improv and off-the-cuff mini lessons." And she also mentioned that one of the toddlers was roaring her heart out in the middle of story time, and how that can just really, "Make your day as a children's librarian."

Jim Heuer [00:03:18] Tricia, how about you? I know you spoke to some of the, our librarians. What have you heard, what have you seen, what do you know?

Tricia Bengel [00:03:25] Well, this actually is one of mine. So, I started working in my local public library when I was 16, not because I had any grandiose ideas of being a librarian, but simply because I wanted my dad to buy me a car. And so, my mom suggested that if I had a job, he would be more inclined to buy me a car. I got a job at my local public library where I had been going there every week since I was born, and I became a page. I was just a dumb 16-year-old page working at the library, not thinking really about the impact of libraries or what I was doing. I was just putting books on the shelves. But, I watched this man, an older man, come into the library every week to meet his tutor. And the only interaction I had with him was sometimes, if the door to the meeting room was still locked, I would unlock it for him. He never spoke to the library staff, he just walked in quietly every week to the study room where he met his tutor. He just always looked really tired, he had obviously come in from a hard day at work and where he, I assume, was a laborer because he was with his lunchbox and his hard hat every day. Finally, after about a year and a half, he came up to the desk and thanked the librarian for giving him a space to learn to read. He told her he had just passed his GED. That was the first time that I ever really realized that we were doing some pretty awesome things at the library. I think about that man often. It makes me really proud that I work at a place that those kinds of things happened.

Tricia Bengel [00:05:16] The other thing that is, for me, one of the most awe-inspiring is to walk through the children's department in any library and seeing kids who are so excited to get their own library cards and check out their books and have that lanyard with their card on it and be able to do it on their own. That's pretty exciting and always reminds me about the big picture and why we're all out there doing what we do.

Donna George [00:05:46] Tricia, you're giving me the feels, I'm sitting over here thinking… I'm thinking about when I was a kid and some of my memories. I'm a Nashville native, and I grew up, I went to Goodlettsville Elementary School, and as I thought back, kind of about libraries over the course of my life, we had a really good librarian in my elementary school. I was young, but I think her first name was Andrea Jones, so if any of you know her, please let her know that she made an impact on me. I remember going to the library, and she would read to us. I remember one book in particular, The Mouse and the Motorcycle.

Tricia Bengel [00:06:19] Oh, Beverly Cleary?

Donna George [00:06:20] Yes. Loved that. There was a particular sign language book in the library that I loved to check out and read. And what I remember is it had, it was very pictorial, of course, and color pictures. There was a page spread that had the sign for peanut butter and jelly, and when you put the pages together, it kind of made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I loved to check out that book at the library. Also, wanted to just out-right name one of the librarians that I worked with at the Nashville Public Library System. She had since retired, but her name is Phyllis Jones, and as is the case for a lot of us who work in public libraries with lots of branches, sometimes you move around a lot. If you're there for many years, you've worked for several different bosses in several different locations. Phyllis was a really good mentor and boss to me and I just wanted to call her out for that. Thank you, Phyllis.

Tricia Bengel [00:07:16] Oh, that's awesome.

Jim Heuer [00:07:17] Yeah, excellent. One of the things, I was in an urban library not too long ago, we stopped at a little place for lunch nearby. A lot of the patrons who used the library were there. I was talking to the librarian afterwards, and he was telling me the story that when someone like you, Tricia in Episode One, he was in charge of kind of the appeal process of the library and who got to stay and who got to go. He had told me a story. He had gone to the same restaurant, and he was in line and he was a bit nervous, because he saw one of the patrons who he had thrown out of the library.

Tricia Bengel [00:07:58] Right.

Jim Heuer [00:07:59] He was actually a little bit worried that something might happen to him, but one of the other patrons sidled up to him and said, "You are the safest guy here. We all know who you are. You help us, right? Don't you worry about anything, you're fine." He said he was actually really kind of a palpable sense of relief. But that, so that the work that librarians are doing to help sometimes the less fortunate, I don't think that gets lost on people in the community. It certainly doesn't get lost on the people who are being helped. He told me that story and I thought that was pretty inspirational that they recognize what he, the amount of work that he does for the community, right? Kind of a neat story, I thought.

Tricia Bengel [00:08:44] I also learned to steal from my first librarian.

Donna George [00:08:48] Wait, what now?

Tricia Bengel [00:08:49] Unlike your elementary school librarian, my elementary school librarian, who reminded me a lot of the principal in the Matilda book by Roald Dahl. She was kind of scary, she looked a lot like the character in the movie. She didn't want us to touch any of her books, because we messed up the library. She really didn't like us making noise in the library. A gang of us who really were obsessed with horse books, really wanted to get our hands on horse books, so we actually contrived a method of luring her to the other side of the library, so we could steal all the horse books. We did return them after we read them, but I did learn to steal from my first librarian.

Donna George [00:09:35] I'm going to geek out here, I think the horse books would've been in 636.1. I hope I'm not getting that confused with dogs, which I think is 636.7.

Jim Heuer [00:09:46] Although we're recording this, and we could have actually referenced that, we didn't, right? Donna's just pulling this off on the top of her head. We're sitting in actually our really nice studios that have been built for our podcast. But that was, I can sit here and attest, that was off the top of her little librarian, she referenced her Dewey numbers and accessed a file. I don’t think it’s been….

Donna George [00:10:08] Don't ask me LC. I’ve got dewey!

Jim Heuer [00:10:11] Right, we're live here folks, so we don't have…she could probably jump on iPage and find the LC.

Donna George [00:10:17] Nice.

Jim Heuer [00:10:18] Subject there…for Roald Dahl's Matilda. Alright so, other things, other awe-inspiring, inspirational. As a non-librarian, right, who kind of grew up with parents who kind of had a liberal bent to them, I certainly look at librarians and with some admiration. It's certainly a lot of, as I've gotten to know librarians, there's a lot of stresses that are part of this job. But it’s really inspiring to see the way that, the leveling of the playing field, the making sure that those less…disenfranchised, less fortunate, have all the same opportunities. I mean, that to me seems like what I've seen as librarianship. That's what you guys are out there doing.

Tricia Bengel [00:11:12] Absolutely, absolutely.

Donna George [00:11:14] Agree.

Jim Heuer [00:11:16] Alright, so thanks, you made it through Episode Two of Season 4 of Two Librarians and a Microphone. We'll be back next time, and we're going to talk about the little things that make it worth it in the library world. You've toiled away for a lot of years in library school to get that degree, and it's great and at times, there can be questioning. But there are other times that there are things that all the tumblers click into place and you know you've made the right decision. Tune in next time for that, and instead of tuning in, perhaps you can subscribe to our podcast. We're always looking for some positive reviews. You can leave us a review on iTunes. I did say positive reviews, right?

Donna George [00:12:01] Absolutely.

Jim Heuer [00:12:02] Exactly. We do have a landing page for this podcast, You can also find it wherever you find any of your podcasts: Stitcher, iTunes, Google Play. We'll be back next time for Episode Three. Thanks to you for listening, and we'll talk to you soon. Bye-bye. Two Librarians and a Microphone is produced and directed by Rachel Cope. Sound engineering by Craig Simpson. Special help from Essence Brisco, Elizabeth Wilcox, and Candice Sweet. Our research done by our librarians Donna George and Tricia Bengle. I am the microphone, Jim Heuer, and thanks most of all to you for listening.