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My friend Louise

Please never think that I am unaware of the privilege being a white guy in children’s books  has afforded me. But it was women who gave me a career, and here in honor of Women’s History Month and #kidlitwomen, I would like to tell you about five lady librarians whose impact on my life has been incalculable. Here’s the first.

Louise and pumpkin

Louise Bailey, now retired after many years as director of the Mansfield Public Library in Connecticut, was in the late seventies a children’s librarian at the Pomona Public Library in California where I worked as a security guard (stop laughing) for a year between college and library school. I was working there to get whatever public library experience I could gather prior to attending GLS, but had had no thought of becoming a children’s librarian. Louise changed that: she was young, smart, tenacious, and politically engaged. And so good with kids: I remember one boy, Kenny, who was a habitué of the library not because he was a great reader but because his home life was unbearable. One week he was tremendously excited because a TV crew had come to shoot video of his karate class for some local-interest feature, and he must have told Louise and me a hundred times to remember to tune in. We did–and, heartbreakingly, no Kenny appeared in the footage. The next day, he asked Louise, so hopefully, if she had spotted him in the segment, maybe in the background. “No, Kenny,” she said gently, “I didn’t.” Telling lies to the young is wrong, Yevtushenko told us, and Louise was and is ferociously devoted to both the young and the truth. Her friendship to me provided my first understanding that librarianship wasn’t just a job or a career, but a vocation. Thank you, Louise.

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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