Every librarian has a favorite patron. A visitor who just makes our work day a little bit brighter. Maybe it’s the spunky kid who loves Disney movies, the college student that can’t get enough of the CD collection, or even the quiet person who just likes to sit by the fireplace with coffee and a magazine. Libraries seem to have this secret magic that somehow draws the very best kinds of people.
Yet, I can’t help but think that MY favorite patron is extra special. She is 105 years old, after all.
Mattie was born in 1914 and resides in a local senior center. The Geauga County Public Library’s Lobby Stop Bookmobile visits every other week. Mattie, fashionably dressed and forever smiling, is always waiting for the librarians to roll their big white carts of books into her home’s lobby. She snatches the hottest and most current non-fiction stories right off the shelves, and she always finds something good in our Courtesy Collection giveaways, which she calls “free-bees”. But it wasn’t until I had been working at the library for quite a few months before I heard about Mattie.
You see, I work behind the scenes in the GCPL Mobile Services bookmobile office. I help make sure our three bookmobiles are ready for the road, full of books, games, and movies! I plan activities and story times for our Fun Bus Book Bus. I also fill hold requests and make sure the people we visit are receiving exactly the items they ask for (You want 6 movies featuring Frank Sinatra? Or historical mysteries? No problem, I’ll find them!).
That is how I heard about Mattie. She asked for something I didn’t even know we had – stories written in French, with the English translations printed right next to them. Of course, I asked the Lobby Stop drivers who had requested such an odd thing, and they told me about Mattie. That she was, at the time, 104 years old and was brushing up on her French. I was quite astounded – I am only 28, and can barely remember the Spanish classes I took in High School. I asked to know more about Mattie and heard all about the sweet lady who loved to learn and loved our books.
I filled Mattie’s request for her French books, and two weeks later received another request for more. Pretty soon, we had run out of available books. On top of that, Mattie was asking for classic poetry, and read through pretty much all of our poetry books, too. Not wanting to disappoint my special patron, I turned to the internet. I found some wonderful websites where I could print exactly what Mattie needed. I’ve been sending specially printed stories and poetry to her ever since. I love to read along with her from the office, being moved by all these wonderful stories before shipping them off.
Eventually, I got the chance to go visit Mattie. Every now and then, I fill in for our traveling bookmobile librarians and get to see all the places I hear about from the office. I love to bring books to all the senior centers with the Lobby Stop or perform story times on the Fun Bus. But I especially love visiting Mattie. Lately, with so many drivers going on spring-time vacations, I’ve gotten the chance to see her a bit more often, and she presented the Lobby Stop with a beautiful drawing of a teapot. We’ve framed it, and my manager put it up in our Mobile Services office. Seeing the teapot’s summery floral design now, as I write this, reminds me of the bright smile on Mattie’s face as she blew me a kiss goodbye last week. I also think of her as I read through the books on my 100 Book Challenge list. I’ve blazed through a dozen or more titles in the last two and a half months. I’ve also started reading lots of interesting books from the non-fiction section. Little does Mattie know how much she has motivated me to keep my mind moving forward!
Mattie, your enthusiasm for knowledge and learning inspires me. Thank you.
Kayleigh is a Mobile Services Clerk. She is currently reading The Blue Bottle Club by Penelope Stokes.