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Announcing my Retirement

September 14, 2015

I thank Ryan Summerlin for a well-done article in Friday’s paper announcing my retirement from the library. We talked a long time, and he made a good distillation of the conversation. Also, he picked a good photo in that I wasn’t slouching too badly, which will please my mother.

Vocabulary was a challenge. Retirement is not quite the right word. I’m not really in a position to retire they way most people think of the word. But then, “resignation” has a cloud hanging over it. “Termination” is frightening. “Conclusion” leans toward the euphemistic, not unlike “moving on.” Some might choose “desertion.”

“Departure” is neutral enough, I suppose. “Denouement” we might say over a polite cup of tea. I’m not going anywhere, and nothing is wrong, either with me or the library, and eventually I’ll work for an income again. I just don’t know the word for all that.

The right word is sometimes very important. We used to have Story Hour at the library, because it was, in fact, an hour long. There were stories, then vigorous singing and dancing to dissipate a lot of energy, and then more stories until parents returned from errands or coffee.

Now we have Story Time, and the time is about a half hour, for various good reasons. But note that at this Wednesday’s Story Time, at 10:00 a.m., we will have a party along with members of the Salida Sunrise Rotary Club to celebrate the first six months of Imagination Library.

There’s a pretty good chance you know about Imagination Library, since in the first six months fully half of eligible children have been signed up. But the glass is half empty: There’s another half to sign up!

Imagination Library is for any child from birth to five years old. Each child will get a book a month in the mail—for free—until his or her fifth birthday, at which point the last book delivered will be about going to Kindergarten. Salida Sunrise Rotary will worry about the funding; all a parent has to do is sign up.

The books are carefully chosen according to age, and many are well-known titles. It’s such a good program and a simple and marvelous equalizer in a community. Early exposure to lots of books improves early literacy skills and helps all children be ready to learn when they enter school.

There are other programs seeking this effect, such as “1000 Books Before Kindergarten.” I believe the magic number is more like 500, but regardless, if most of us intend to read 500 different books to a child before Kindergarten, we will need the help of a library. And why not? You can read thousands and thousands, if you like.

Note that I said “to read 500 different books to a child.” The desired effect is not had by piling 500 books around a toddler. The interaction of parent and child, the voice and engagement of the parent, the intimacy of sitting together quietly intent on a story—all of this is important.

It’s relatively easy to incorporate this into a day. Reading “Llama Llama and the Bully Goat” is not like committing to “War and Peace.” (Of course, reading “Llama Llama and the Bully Goat” 500 times might be.)

Still, having books in the home is an important aspect of developing literacy skills. Imagination Library is one easy way to do it. Come to the celebration Wednesday at 10:00, and if you haven’t signed up yet, come do that, too.


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One Comment
  1. Jeff, Retirement? ? Impossible. I know how old you are, and you’re younger than I am! Whatever your decision, enjoy! Richard

    Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Smartphone

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