Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Neighborhood Librarian

Librarian Peggy Swanson and Elaine Johnson stood in a corner of the children’s section of the Maze Branch Library, talking about books.

Johnson visited Maze Wednesday, reading books with her granddaughter, Maya Rankin. Maya sat patiently in the Maze book playhouse, waiting for her grandmother, who had a stack of books in her hands.

Johnson hadn’t asked for book recommendations, she said, but Swanson was there to help her, anyway.

“If you’re here on a regular basis, they know you and your family,” Johnson

The two women talked about books and getting their grandchildren together at Maze once Swanson’s retirement was official. She’s leaving June 16, after 12 years with the Oak Park Public Library.

Swanson will miss working with the library’s patrons, she said. At the main library, just about everything is about materials and people needing them. At the branch libraries, it’s about the neighborhood.

“You get people coming in that just moved to the neighborhood for their first library card with their kids and family,” Swanson said. “It’s a much more social experience.”

People become close at Maze. A few years ago, one of the Maze staff members had a death in the family, Swanson said. People from the community came to the wake.

The people who come to Maze are from all walks, from children to seniors. Some people stop by following their commute, Swanson said, to pick up some reading material for the train.

-Chris LaFortune