How I became a librarian
I graduated from college in 1967 with a major in English. My first job was with Continental Airlines as a stewardess. I didn’t like it and I wanted to quit, but I had no idea what else to do. My father, who always wanted me to be a teacher or a librarian, told me that if I wanted to go to library school he would pay for it. Since teaching didn’t interest me, I took him up on his offer of library school. As it turned out, a library career was the perfect fit for me and I worked as a librarian for almost 40 years. I quit the airlines and was accepted into USC Library School in 1968 where our one “computer” class was a lecture on Fortran and Cobol.
My early library career
I graduated from USC in the Summer of 1969. My husband and I lived in Long Beach so I was hoping that I could get a job at LBPL. I interviewed with Mildred Snider in Administration. I remember that she brought Florence Powers into the interview because Miss Powers was the head of the Literature & History Department and there was an opening which might be perfect for an English major. I was hired in September 1969.
One of Miss Power’s requirements for her librarians was to read (whatever we wanted) for an hour a day. I remember sitting in a comfy chair in her tiny office in the basement of the Old Main library and reading Agatha Christie, Kurt Vonnegut, Tom Wolfe, dozens of romance and mystery novels, and whatever appealed to me. As a librarian working in L&H we were expected to be familiar with as many titles as possible so we could recommend them to our patrons. This had to be the best job ever.
I remember fondly the people I worked with on the L&H desk in the early days:
Leslie Swaddling was a dapper gentleman who had a lot of ladies vying for his attention, but he wasn’t interested in any of them. Leslie was the person who very patiently stayed with me on the desk my first few weeks to make sure I knew where everything was.
Diane Erdelyi was hired several months before I was and we became really good friends. I always admired her for planning trips to Europe all by herself. I can still see her pouring over the most recent edition of Fodor’s and deciding where she would travel next. She also had some great parties in her apartment in Belmont Shore.
Cordelia Howard was an elegant lady with a dry sense of humor and a quirky smile. She always made me laugh.
Helene Silver was a no-nonsense librarian who took over L&H when Florence Powers retired. Helene always wanted Tuesdays off because that was the day she cleaned her house.