Life between the pages

Published 9:58 am Thursday, June 4, 2009

Tracy Arnold can remember sitting in her daddy’s lap listening to him read picture books and teasing her by pretending to read them upside down.

At the tender age of 2, she emphatically knew she preferred her books right side up.

“My mom says she knew I would end up working where there were lots of books, because I loved my Little Golden Books so much,” Arnold said.

Growing up in Columbiana, she would take her little book bag along on errands with her mom, but still cry for new ones.

“Mr. Dan Gillis, pharmacist at Gillis Drug Store, once felt so sorry for me, he went in the back and brought out his auto repair manual for me, and that kept me happy—just turning the pages,” she said.

Tracy began working part–time in the Harrison Regional Library system at 14 as part of the high school’s vocational program. She has been at the Jane Holmes Public Library since 1996, first working under director Pat Valenti, then becoming assistant director under Victoria Ashford, and now, Daniel Dearing.

“Tracy is very capable and hands-on,” said Dearing. “She knows all the technical systems and record-keeping aspects and she’s our computer troubleshooter, all of which are essential to our facility.”

Her personal favorite writers are Jan Karon and Beverly Lewis — particularly Lewis’ “Annie’s People” series set in Amish country. For contemporary Christian fiction, Tracy suggests anything by Karen Kingsbury.

“Sometimes people come in and they have only one line from a poem or a song and we can help them trace the origin through the poetry index of the AVL, Alabama Virtual Library.”

This database for magazine, journal and newspaper articles –– all good reference sources for students –– is available to everyone. Just request your AVL card at the library.

The library is experiencing increased Internet usage and more people doing job searches. With this in mind, Arnold notes the library will soon have additional books about resume writing, as well as “2009 What Color Is Your Parachute” and “150 Best Recession-Proof Jobs.”

On June 10, the ‘Be Creative @ Your Library’ children’s summer reading program kicks off with entertainment by Melinda Mills of “Learning Through Song.” For 6-12 graders, the theme is ‘Express Yourself @ Your Library.’ Teen readers can earn (up to five) chances to enter a drawing to win a digital camera donated by Best Buy.

“We are a very friendly library and very good listeners,” Arnold said. “I think that comes across to our patrons.”