My Life in Summer Reading T-shirts

How do you mark the years of your life…family photos? A shelf of school yearbooks? Gray hairs?

From a children’s librarian’s point of view, Summer Reading is a pretty big deal.

I have a collection of t-shirts that tell the story of all the eras of my career.

Johnson County Public Library, Franklin, Indiana

This is where I started my first full-time librarian position. It was a lovely library serving all of Johnson County, Indiana. In the north of the county it’s pretty much south-suburban Indianapolis, but as you move further south it becomes full-on farm country. My memories of summers here are of eager readers, school visits, and county and state fairs: land of delicious pork fritter sandwiches, tasty fried biscuits and sweet-tart apple butter, demolition derby. I loved every minute of it as Children’s Librarian and then as Children’s Department Manager. I stayed 7 ½ years.

Chicago Public Library, Chicago, IL

When I was young, my father was a library board trustee in my hometown. Often, American Library Association conferences became family vacations where my dad would attend conference, and my mom would take us kids to attractions in whatever city we were visiting. Chicago frequently repeated because the American Library Association has its offices there. My parents tell me that when people would ask me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I would answer that I wanted to live in Chicago. So when the offer came…I took it. My memories of summers at CPL are of big-time partnerships, more school visits, Taste of Chicago, July 3 fireworks, and music: go early, eat, eat some more, see and hear the Go-Gos, Elvis Costello, Robert Plant, and so much more. I worked for the City for almost 14 years at 7 different locations and have lived there almost 20 at 3 different locations.

Des Plaines Public Library, Des Plaines, IL

How lucky am I to have landed at the Des Plaines Public Library? This big, beautiful, state-of-the-art facility has wonderful staff, abundant resources, great community partnerships, and (maybe I’m a bit biased here) the best summer reading t-shirts. Summers here at DPPL bring to mind celebrations of reading, kickoffs and concerts, engaged kids and their families, and the occasional flood. I have been here 7 years and am happily counting.

In the process of preparing for this post, I discovered some of my shirts are missing. Perhaps some are in a long-ago packed box that’s deep in storage, others may have been borrowed and not returned, still more may have been discarded from overuse. Over the years I’ve considered unloading, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. Looking at them conjures up many happy memories.

Recently I considered commissioning a quilt to turn them into something I could admire and reflect on daily. But I’m open to suggestions...

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