A few days ago, I "met" a person who (until that moment) I never knew changed my life: Dr. Annie Norman, Delaware's state librarian. Check out this blog post on her from Wilmington University, where I'm working to complete my Master's of Science in Management. Take a look here:
How did this woman whom I have never met change my life - so dramatically - for the better? I'll tell you. She created the State of Delaware's online library catalog, and integrated 59 state libraries - including those at universities, to provide Delawareans with access to the State's 2.6 million books, CDs, audiobooks, videos, DVDs, and learning materials.
Let me tell you why Dr. Annie Norman's work matters so much to me.
First, I am a voracious reader. If I had endless amounts of cash, I would certainly spend a mind-boggling amount of money on books and audio recordings to feed my addiction. But I do not have endless amounts of cash. I work a regular job and I am a woman, which means I get paid less than a male who would the same job (that's a topic for another day), and I have other problems to solve with my money, such as keeping a roof over my children's heads and making sure their bellies are full. I cannot afford the books I need (those $200 Master's degree specials that I dread to read), much less pay for the books I want.
Second, I dig deep into books to learn how I can improve the life I currently lead. My formal education at universities are important to me, but quite honestly, they do not compare to the amount of learning and self-reflection I have been able to achieve through books. I consider my formal education (Bachelor's complete, Master's in progress) simply an outward validation of the fact that I am not a blithering idiot. Instead, what really matters to me is the fact that reading has given me insight about myself, about relationships with other people, about learning itself, about writing, about leadership, and about other people's lives. And (bonus!) I get a good dose of delightfully grisly horror fiction to indulge my dark side. (It's a good thing to indulge the dark side in reading, rather than action, if one has a choice.)
The Delaware Library Catalog (www.lib.de.us) allows me to request any item of interest from the 59 participating libraries throughout the state. For no charge, library couriers will deliver my requested items to the library of my choice (Smyrna Public Library), and I get a text message and email when I've got items waiting for me. I can stop by and see my beloved librarians Ms. Nadine, Ms. Jane, Carol, and Kriss, and the items are waiting for me just behind them. Usually, I get my selections within a day or two. And *poof!* I have a copy of the book to read for two weeks, with the option to renew them for up to six weeks. All anyone needs to access this library system is a library card and access to the internet. If a person doesn't have access to the internet, they can simply call their friendly local librarian, who can make a request on their behalf.
Until reading the Wilmington University blog about Annie Norman, I never knew who was behind this beautiful, seamless system I have come to love so completely. Thanks to Dr. Norman, I have cut the barriers between myself and continued learning. The online Delaware Library Catalog has proven to be an invaluable tool for achieving my own personal and career aspirations, and anyone who does not take advantage of this system is missing out.
Thank you, Dr. Norman, for creating a program that has provided me with endless access to books about self-improvement, how to make my own jewelry, genocide, eating the right stuff, Albert Einstein, crazed axe-wielding nurses, caring for and cleaning antiques, Mahatma Ghandi, love and relationships, zombies, Canada, transgender issues, George Carlin, war, peace, death, and taxes. Thank you for helping me learn that I love sociology. Thank you for exposing me to life-changing ideas which have my own understanding of myself and others, and reduced my own ignorance. Thank you for making it possible to avoid paying $22.50 for what I think will be an amazing book, only to open it, read six pages, and decide it's for the birds. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be a better person, employee, mother, friend, daughter, and partner through reading and self-discovery.
A library card truly has been my ticket to the world. Thank you, Dr. Norman, from the bottom of my heart.