Miss Moore Thought Otherwise…

Doing a bit of research for a job application (yes, another one!) and playing on Facebook at the same time, I came across this little gem, posted by my friend and fellow librarian at University of Sheffield Libraries: http://www.amightygirl.com/miss-moore-thought-otherwise

This woman campaigned for, and won, the right for a dedicated children’s library in the library where she worked. Now, to us modern types, this might not seem like such a big deal…but…she graduated from Library School in 1896, probably making her in a minority presence at the time. Thinking back just a mere 40 years (cough, cough), I wasnt allowed my own library card until the age of 5 (and not because I was a naughty monkey either: it was standard practice at that time) and I distinctly remember getting my first library card and being so proud of it! Scan forward a number of years until I am aged about 12 and I had voraciously devoured most of the local children’s library titles. By this time I was hankering for challenges and managed (somehow, still dont know how I did it!) to inveigle our librarian (yes, we had a qualified branch librarian in those days!) into letting me have some of the adult books out (which she proceeded to censor when I took them to the counter!). Can you imagine this happening now?

Thinking about the literature that I was reading as a 12 year old: Nina Bawden, Alan Garner, some of the Tolkien stuff (mainly the Hobbit!), Rosemary Sutcliffe to name a few…modern contemporary stories would have been firmly in the ‘adult’ library (Rowling, Collins, Cooper, Clare). All deal with fairly ‘adult’ themes, or themes that I would have been sheltered from in my formative years (bullying, racism, elitism, etc…). Maybe I just have a slightly skewed sense of what was normal at the time, but we were very firmly instructed that the children’s library was for children and, once you crossed that tantalising boundary into adulthood (16), there was a wealth of daring and forbidden literature on the other side…

All of this has got me thinking about how libraries and librarians have changed over the years…this wonderful woman would’ve been a cause champion in her day, probably lauded by both children and parents alike (who could send said children off to the library knowing they would be safe under the watchful eye of some equivalent of Miss Moore). Now, we champion freedom to information, skills development to enhance quality of life, the right to read (and be read, for you authors!), the right for every child to have access to quality literature to feed their minds and free their imagination (thanks, WMBC Mission Statement!). So have we changed really…? Only, for me, in that the photo of Miss Moore is probably where the stereotypical librarian image cam from. Now, where did I put the twinset…

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