Gloria is a screenwriter who I met at the West Hollywood Library. After a meeting in which we discussed one of her screenplays, she told me a story about her first experience at the library. Because I think her experience is such a apt example of how libraries and librarians can help people, I asked her to write it up for me.
“Grandmother’s Librarian” by Gloria Rozier
I was raised by my maternal grandmother. When I was in first grade, my grandmother took me to the local library. I knew that she couldn’t read, so I was confused as to why we’d be going to the library. When we got there she spoke privately with the librarian, then she came to me and told me that she’d be back soon. After grandmother left, the librarian gave me a tour of the library. I remember looking up at all the books on the shelves and asking myself, how was I ever going to read them all. I saw older kids studying at long tables. I was enthralled as I watched them. I told myself that I would do that one day. They looked so smart. I have now done so an infinite number of times. That one experience continues to impact my life today.
Grandmother had only attended school for six weeks before her mother died. Afterwards, her father snatched her out of school. He said that girls didn’t need to be educated. Grandmother told me that she cried for days because she knew she would never become the person she wanted to be. My grandmother told me that her aspirations had been to become a teacher or a nurse. She was both to me.
In writing this piece, I feel for the first time the full impact of the difficulties in her young life: The loss of her beloved mother and being deprived of the opportunity for an education. She grieved both, simultaneously. That was a lot to bear for a six-year-old girl.
My grandmother died when I was fifteen. After she died I began hanging out with kids who were not especially interested in school. Nevertheless, when I skipped school, I would always call someone who’d attended school to get the assignment, and have the homework prepared for the next class. Needless to say the disinterested kids weren’t happy with me.
Even though I could not appreciate it at the time, there was always a part of me that recognized that I carried on my shoulders the hopes and dreams of strong, ambitious women.
I am very grateful to my great-grandmother for being astute enough to comprehend the importance of being an educated woman. Great-grandmother was born sometime after the end of the Civil War and married my great-grandfather in 1885. Women like her are the bedrock of my continued quest for success as a writer. I was the first in my family to go to college and receive a degree.
Even though great-grandmother died when my grandmother was a girl, the dream did not die with her. Although my grandmother died when I was a teenager, her dream also did not die with her. My grandmother didn’t have an education but she enlisted the aid of those who did; those that were willing to invest in her dream and in her granddaughter.
My grandmother’s lack of education did not hinder me from becoming educated, because she wouldn’t allow it. She created an environment for me in which I would always value education and learning something new everyday. There are some who say that people like my grandmother cannot raise an educated child. I don’t believe it.
Children must be introduced to education early and their home life should be as stable as possible. My daily routine on school days was breakfast, which she prepared. Arrive at school on time, homework, and playtime (what was left of daylight). I used to wish my grandmother had left me a financial inheritance. I finally figured out that she did. A good education is worth its weight in gold.
At times I have tried to remember the librarian’s name or her face, but I can’t. I can only remember that she was soft-spoken and kind. I would liked to have thanked her for an experience that has and will forever remain a part of me. Whenever I go to a library now, I look for a librarian with her demeanor. Librarians like her stoke the imaginations of children and open up the possibilities to them.
I am honored to be the by-product of my great-grandmother’s dreams for her daughter and my grandmother’s dreams for me, her daughter in every sense of the word. What a legacy to fulfill.