Love Your Librarian

There was this lady named Erna Fergusson who opened up the world for me.

Erna was a New Mexican, one of our best. She was born and grew up in Glorieta and later spent time in Washington DC when her father was a Congressman. Erna was a worldly woman dedicated to capturing in writing much of the history and tradition of the indigenous people of both New Mexico and Latin America. She was a teacher and later helped found the Albuquerque Historical Society.

In 1966, the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library System opened up a library branch bearing Erna’s name.

A few years later, here’s where I come in. My maternal grandmother, herself a schoolteacher, taught me how to read at a pretty young age. I took to reading like the proverbial duck to water.

My mom, also an avid reader, brought me to the library named for Erna Fergusson and showed me how to check out books. The world was suddenly my oyster! The scent of library glue, the perfect little rubber stamps and the shelves and shelves of books…well I was hooked. Obsessed, really.

I’ve always had a special place in my heart for both libraries and librarians.

Where I live now, I have access to one of the largest library systems around, and I’m in utter literary bliss. I’m constantly amazed by the obscure and not-so-obscure items in find in the collection.

A couple weeks ago right here on this blog, I professed my love (again) for another of my favorite New Mexicans, Max Evans.That same day, I checked into my library’s catalog to see if they had any of Max’s books that I hadn’t read.

Sure enough, they had a copy of One-Eyed Sky, a collection of three Max Evans stories. Well, I ordered it up to be sent to me via interlibrary loan. It took a couple days, and the same day I checked it out, with much anticipation, I opened the cover and was greeted by a sight that made me nostalgic:

It may be a little hard to see, but I added a red arrow that points to a rubber stamped date of Nov 30 ’64.

All of the stamps prior to that don’t have the year included, but one can assume 1964 and earlier. The book has a copyright date of 1963, but I figured I’d get a later printing of the book from the library. Nope. This is a first edition and it’s still in my library and still in good shape.

Behind the paper due date page was this:

Then I just went all squishy inside. I always did love that pocket they used to glue inside the front of books along with the card for the librarian to stamp that lets you know the day the book is due back. Can’t you just imagine the librarian typing up the title on both pocket and card, filing it neatly in alphabetical order while adding Max’s stories to the library collection? Then the series of librarians who dutifully stamped that card while checking it out to eager readers (like me!) over the past forty-eight years.

Well, it all made me kind of misty eyed. There’s ol’ Max, our Max, a fixture in the Bay Area library all these years. I read that book cover to cover, devouring every word and got to the last page feeling nothing but gratitude.

Just makes me want to say thanks to that one librarian, and all the rest as well, for giving me the world.

Photos by Karen Fayeth, taken with the Camera+ app on an iPhone4.

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  • Ephraim F. Moya


    My library, when I was a kid in Albuquerque, was the library at the corner of Central and Edith streets. I used to walk the mile from my house to and from that library two or three times a week carrying as many books as I could carry in my arms. I started when I was in the second grade at John Marshall Elementary.

    That library is now the ‘special collections’ branch and it contains a room kept in the style of the 1950’s library. There you can see the little rubber stamp holders that fit on the end of a pencil which were used to hold the date stamp that was used to stamp the date on the checkout cards that were placed in the envelope on the first page of the book.

    What a great post! It keyed many great memories.

    El Viejo.

  • Elise

    I worked in a library for a couple of years as a teen, and one of my ongoing tasks was glueing that pocket into new books. I can still smell the paste. What a wonderful memory. :-)

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