I don’t remember learning how to read, or the first thing I read.
I don’t remember the moment I knew that reading was my most favorite thing. I just remember always loving to read, and being so happy with a book in my hands.
My earliest memories of books go back to my first- and second-grade years at Tanglewood Elementary. I recall reading a biography of Abraham Lincoln and my teacher being proud of me. I remember loving “Nancy Drew,” and “Sweet Valley Twins.” I grew up in their world and some of my first classics were “Black Beauty” and “The Secret Garden.”
I had to have glasses by the time I was in fourth grade, and I secretly wondered if it was because of the reading I did at night, by the dim light of my sisters’ Glo Worm.
I grew up in the 80s and had an analog childhood, we used newspapers and encyclopedias for reference, and trips to the library were needed and necessary for book reports or any projects. I did not have any technological distractions so I read, all the time — even when I wasn’t supposed to.
Teachers dearly love when you are a reader, but I know I was a constant source of frustration because I would rush through my work to pull a book out from my desk. When I looked back at my report cards over the years, this was mentioned repeatedly to my parents.
Trips to the public library downtown were especially exciting for me. It meant picking out lots of new books to take home, and a chance to see the fish.
My dad loves reading as much as I do, so we shared that hobby. Trips to Waldenbooks were our favorite, and we would let my mom and sisters drop us off there and come back later for us. I would pick out my books to buy and then grab another one off the shelf and sit on the floor to read.
I’m sure this was probably not really allowed. But in all those years, they never said anything to me.
I would get an “Archie” comic every week, and daddy would take us to the Cigarette Newsstand for those. I was always slightly annoyed that I had to do other things in life besides read, like going to school, etc.
When I was at the middle school, we had a reading contest and the goal was 100 books. I read 200 and kept going. A contest with books? I was all in. I received two medals for that. My parents were so proud.
In 2003 my brother-in-law was in college at North Carolina State University and he told me that Nora Roberts was going to be at Barnes & Noble in Raleigh. I immediately made plans with my sisters for a trip up there. I stood in line for hours, clutching my book for her to autograph, thinking of all the things I wanted to say to her and to ask her. What actually happened was that I barely talked, just smiled profusely when it was my turn and my sisters got a few pics of the exchange.
I was a substitute teacher for the last several years at Tanglewood Elementary, and have spent the last three years serving on their PTA. It put me working directly with and for children, but also event planning for large groups of children. This was when I really knew what my strengths were and what I could look for in a career.
This year, the day after Christmas, I saw a Facebook post about the position for Youth Services specialist at the Robeson County Public Library. Reading the description, I was blown away. I read it several times over and got more and more excited about the possibility that this could be the job for me. I was overjoyed when I got an interview and was asked to bring a children’s book to read, as part of the interview. I ended up choosing “Pete the Cat,” and that particular book will always hold a special place in my heart.
My family was so supportive and helpful throughout the whole process and I love how excited they all were for me. They were correct in saying that this was the perfect job for me. I’m so excited about the programs that the library offers for the children, from babies to young adults. I have loved planning for story time and craft, and helping run Lego Club and STEM Club. The smile on their faces are my drive and my goal.
As a mom of two, I appreciate the way that our library is investing time and funds into the betterment of children’s lives. They are certainly our future, so there is great value in investing in them. This type of investment is a win-win for everyone. I’m looking forward to a beautiful career with the Robeson County Public Library.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” — Mahatma Gandhi.
Caroline Lloyd is a Youth Services specialist for the Robeson County Public Library.