Let me explain. Most of you have not heard of Gail. She was a powerhouse in Berwyn, running the library and serving on many community boards. But in terms of her reach into the larger library community, at first glance her reach seems very local.
However, Gail was always an independent thinker. Back in 2000, she knew the adults of Berwyn were not being served well when it came to their leisure reading needs. She shook up the library, a library where most of the employees lived in the community, or if they lived outside the borders of Berwyn, they had roots and ties to Berwyn for decades. She reached out and searched for people to run a new department that would only provide adult leisure reading help. And she took a chance staring this new Readers Advisory Department hiring 2 librarians who hadn’t even finished their degrees yet, 2 librarians with roots far from Berwyn (NJ and NM), 2 librarians who had no track record, 2 librarians who shared her passion for service.
Those 2 librarians were me and Tammy. Tammy is now our the BPL’s Director, and I am here. I wasn’t even sure if RA was all I wanted to do when I went to Berwyn, but it was too good of an opportunity to turn down. Gail gave us the room to make the RA Department what we wanted it to be. She gave me a place to grow and learn to the point at which now I am writing the textbooks, leading the RA seminars, and writing an RA blog that is listed in textbooks. I went from not being sure, to an expert.
So, no Gail might not be mentioned as a force in the library community. But she was. She gave me a chance, my first chance. She believed in me. She believed in RA when very few libraries had a staff devoted solely to it.
I think of the hundreds of librarians I have trained to provide quality RA service. I think of the thousands of patrons who have been better served because of the training I gave those people. And I am proud to be one of the many people who loudly trumpets the RA horn throughout the library world.
But where would RA be today without Gail starting this train in motion? Even scarier, where would I be? I am glad those are questions I don’t have to answer. Thank you Gail. Rest in peace.