Memories: Diane Libby Smith

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When there was a chance to have our own library, I was so excited. My daddy let me mark the X in the box marking for the new library.

I watched the progress on the building, detouring there from school on my way to our store on the square. Ruth Davis showed me all the books she was shelving, pointing out the shelves for children‘s books. It was so exciting. I could hardly wait.

On the first day the library opened, leaving signing guest books and glancing around to others, I rushed right over to the treasures in the children’s shelf.

I soon learned that, no matter my assignment or interest, Ruth had the time to help and the ability to go directly to EXACTLY what I needed. It never occurred to the child that I was then that there was a difference between Ruth and the library. She was the library to me.

Soon, Ruth told me of a book she thought I would like and that it would be all right for me to check out, even though it was not in the children’s section. I must have checked out My Secret Garden so many times my name filled the check-out card. When I didn’t have it, I would stop by to re-read a chapter. My parents learned that, when I was running late from school, the first place to check was in the library in the aisle where My Secret Garden was shelved.

As manners at the time dictated, I gave Mrs. Anderson a polite wave through the window in her office as she sat at the chair behind her desk. Then, I would rush on down to MY book. If Dad called, Ruth knew where to find me. Years later, to celebrate my attendance at the White House Conference on Libraries, I went to the Smithsonian Institute and there purchased my souvenir, my own copy of My Secret Garden.

Ruth was so willing to help when I had any school project that I might still be in school if not for her help.

One thing about the library in the old livery stable puzzled me as a child. I could not see why so much space that could have been used for bookswas taken up with magazines and newspapers.

In the early winter of 1978, I had brought my boys to story hour. Don Gann, the state representative from our district, came by to ask the librarian for suggestions on who to appoint to represent us at the Missouri Governor’s Conference on Libraries.I’m still not sure whether I was in the right or the wrong place at the time.

On March 7, 1978, I received my letter of appointment and immediately began receiving information to read and meetings to attend. From the Governor’s Conference, the White House Conference, the Friends of the Library, the Missouri Library Association , the LSCA Grant Committee, the American Library Association and the Taskforce on the White House Conference, it never ended until I left the Board of The Christian County Library nearly twenty-five years later. I still miss very much being involved in MY library.

During my time on the board, we went from manual to electric typewriters to those Selectric typewriters with the type on a metal ball – then, by golly, we got a computer. We expanded the building, added staff and services and hours. We brought salaries and benefits up to a reasonable level to allow us to get and keep quality staff. In between directors, in 1986 and 1987, I did the bookkeeping and many timeconsuming director’s duties I gladly passed on when a new director was hired.

One last memory – when the library first had numbered library cards, I sort of accidentally received the seventh card. Since the early 1980’s I’ve been pleased to be Christian County Library’s own agent 007.

Diane Libby Smith, founding member of the Friends of the Christian County Library; Christian County Library Trustee 1982 – 2002 and library supporter on the local, state and national level.