A Farewell to Falmouth Public Library
September 3, 1991. The first words that are written after the date in my National Brand, Narrow Ruled Eye-Ease Paper Single Subject notebook are: “List of Attorney Generals.” This notebook was shared by all the reference librarians at the reference desk so we knew what question had been answered and what question still needed to have some follow-up. Other questions that can be found in that notebook:
“Can WordPerfect be used on an Apple II?”
“Do you have any information on T. Bailey, Cape artist and marine painter?”
“Do you have a 16mm movie projector that the public can use?”
“Do you have the phone number for the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Museum?”
“Why is the blue moon called blue?”
“A child brought in a grenade for show and tell. When did that happen?”
“A patron at Snow Library wants to know U.S. Foreign Aid to Pakistan for fiscal year 1990/1991.”
“When is Anita Hill’s Birthday?”
“What does Italy do to celebrate the New Year?”
And one of my all-time favorite reference questions … “Would you forge my mother’s signature? I got in trouble at school.”
We answered them all. We were a regional reference library, which meant we were funded by the state to answer questions for all the libraries on the Cape and Islands, not just the questions of the citizens of the town of Falmouth.
We answered them all, without the internet, without google, without an online card catalog. When I first arrived we still had a paper card catalog, but on Halloween 1991 the first CLAMS online catalog was launched. In the 1991 town annual report, Ann Haddad, Library Director, wrote: “Library circulation is now on computer linking a 14 member library network. Users have one card and can use the collections of all participating libraries.” In the 1994 town annual report we began “a regular weekly newspaper column” in the Falmouth ENTERPRISE, which is to this day still making a weekly appearance!
And then, in the 1995 town annual report, the world of the reference librarian changed dramatically. Director Nancy Serotkin wrote in her list of highlights for the year: “starting a World Wide Web connection for the public in cooperation with the Woods Hole research community.” The future had arrived!
It has been a great gift to have spent thirty years working for the Falmouth Public Library. I have been fortunate to have so many wonderful colleagues both at the Falmouth Public Library and within the Cape and Island libraries. I thank all of the town of Falmouth for being so supportive of this stunning building and this amazing staff who work in the main library and our East and North branches.
I’ll leave you with the words of my magnificent reference professor at Simmons College, Allen Smith, who said to all of his students: “In order to be really good as a librarian, everything counts towards your work, every play you go see, every concert you hear, every trip you take, everything you read, everything you know. I don’t know of another occupation like that. The more you know, the better you’re going to be.”
Head of Reference & Adult Services … my last day will be October 28th, 2021!