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Library News

By: Sheila Hoffmeyer, President
For: Red Rock News
Date: May 1, 2009

Mothers Inspire Learning & Library Use

As we turn the calendar page to May, one of those most important, not to be missed days is Mother’s Day – celebrated this year on the 10th.  An online search reveals the modern Mother's Day holiday was created by Anna Jarvis as a day for each family to honor its mother, and it's now celebrated on various days in many places around the world. On May 12, 1907, two years after her mother's death, Anna held a memorial to her mother and thereafter embarked upon a campaign to make "Mother's Day" a recognized holiday. She succeeded in making it nationally recognized in 1914.
For many, our mothers mentored, coached, cajoled and downright prodded us in ways that influenced our entire lives.  I was reminded of this recently when I met Laura Lawrie.   A volunteer in Circulation and an Information Assistant at the Library, her energy and dynamic approach to learning is rooted in the solid footing she received from her mother, a librarian, now retired and living in Vermont. Laura laughingly describes how in elementary school she began to catalog her books according to the Dewey Decimal System, the system that organizes books on library shelves in a specific and repeatable order that makes it easy to find any book and return it to its proper place. “I even had a proper card catalog,” Laura said. “I still keep all of our books in order by subject and author. I always know where to find a particular book!”

Laura and her husband William are encouraging their daughters Aurora and Viveca to use the library. “We took our daughters to the library from the moment that they were born, and as soon as they could use the card catalog, we taught them how to do that,” she said.  “We have shown them how to find books in the various sections of the library as well.”  The Lawrie family also volunteers as liaison for the Chamber Music Sedona free concerts that are held at the Library.

My own mother created three vociferous readers - myself and my two brothers - by planning weekly excursions to the Peoria IL branch library during summer vacation in the late 50s and early 60s.  We’d all pile into the yellow station wagon and there was always room for a couple neighbor kids in the seat facing backwards. Long before libraries had Summer Reading Programs, my mother believed you never took a break from learning and we continued to read daily throughout the summer. My favorite books during that period were a series orange-covered biographies of heroic people – Madame Curie, Abraham Lincoln, Daniel Boone, and Martha Washington. Even better than the occasional ice cream cone after our library outing was finding a new biography that I hadn’t read at least twice.

Libraries are filled with great books that celebrate mothers.  I’m currently reading “The Zookeeper’s Wife” by Diane Ackerman.  The mother in this often hard to read account of Germany’s invasion and occupation of Warsaw, Poland from 1939-1944 is rooted in zookeeper Antonina Zabinski’s struggle to provide a stable life for her son Ry? and the menagerie of animals that she nursed through a devastating time. Despite the Nazis’ efforts to crush the Polish people and destroy their heritage, stories were read and music was sung, and the children were taught to celebrate life.  Antonina helped her husband Jan smuggle Jews for the resistance and hide them in the empty zoo cages, all the while refusing to give in to the penetrating fear of discovery as she found ways to keep her unusual household alive.

And what a beautiful tribute mystery writer Linda Fairstain penned to her mother in the Acknowledgements in her new book “Lethal Legacy.” “I remember the first time she took me to the public library in our small city, and with what delight I left that day carrying the three books the librarian entrusted to me,” Fairstain wrote. “Our favorite weekly excursion – an hour of pure happiness with my mother – was the trip downtown to return the small stack I had selected and replace it with another.  Wherever you are, use your libraries and support them.”

We at the Sedona Public Library thank all mothers for their support on this upcoming Mother’s Day.

Sheila Hoffmeyer
Sheila Hoffmeyer, author of this week's article,
is President of the Board of Trustees of the Sedona Public Library.

Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News
and is also presented on: Gateway to Sedona and Sedona Biz.