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  • Writer's pictureNora Curry

Poem of the Week: My First Memory (Of Librarians)

In honor of this week's overlap between National Poetry Month and National Library Week, here is a poem from Nikki Giovanni that celebrates not only the space and sensation of libraries but also the librarians who work in them and who often persist in children's memories. Today is National Library Workers Day, so we're specifically celebrating the staff of the Camden Public Library. Giovanni recalls here the "welcoming smile" of her librarian, who stands by the gateway into the limitless world created by books. You have not been able to see our smiles behind the masks for the past year, but we hope that you have felt the warmth and welcoming nature of our efforts to continue to provide services to our community. I can't sing the praises of my colleagues enough, and I hope their faces resonate with you as you read Nikki Giovanni's poem. If you'd like to support the valuable role that our staff plays in transforming lives and strengthening our community, please give at librarycamden.org/donate.


My First Memory (Of Librarians)


This is my first memory:

A big room with heavy wooden tables that sat on a creaky

wood floor

A line of green shades—bankers' lights—down the center

Heavy oak chairs that were too low or maybe I was simply

too short

For me to sit in and read

So my first book was always big


In the foyer up four steps a semi-circle desk presided

To the left side the card catalogue

On the right newspapers draped over what looked like

a quilt rack

Magazines face out from the wall


The welcoming smile of my librarian

The anticipation in my heart

All those books—another world—just waiting

At my fingertips.


- Nikki Giovanni

From Acolytes

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