Modesto Library Manager and former Library Page Chris Moreno calls library pages “the unsung heroes of the library” and valuable members of the library system. Library pages are the employees you see sorting and shelving materials (they know the alphabet and Dewey Decimal System really well), as well as checking in books, retrieving library materials, answering phones and even helping Reference and Children’s staff with programs.
There are currently 20 pages at the Modesto Library and 32 system-wide. Although it is an entry level position, it can lead elsewhere. Many use the position as a springboard to promotion within or to work on an undergraduate degree. Others just love the satisfaction that comes with working in a library. Chris acknowledges that it was that job that sparked the idea that working in a library is a noble career choice, leading him to earn a master’s degree in Library Science and his current job.
Camille Lear, a Modesto Library Assistant, says, “Our pages exude their love of the library. Not only are they smart, organized and personable, they care about being efficient and timely. Most of all…they care about our beloved books.”
Debi Catramis, also a Library Assistant, adds, “Our library pages are awesome. I believe we could not uphold the level of customer service without everything the pages do.”
Kathy Collins, of Modesto, worked as a page in her mid-forties for two years. She says it was a dream job since this was the library she and her family had frequented for years. “I enjoyed being around other families exploring books.” She also enjoyed organizing books and movies, shelving them and making sure they were in the right place, especially after the little ones had looked through them. She recalls the warm and friendly atmosphere in the children’s department and how the staff always had welcoming smiles and genuinely cared for others.
Friends member Julie Reuben was a page for two years in the mid-‘60s in Tallmadge, Ohio. She recalls that she liked working with the public and being surrounded by books. Julie says the job taught her skills that were valuable in college and her professional life. She taught high school and junior high English and journalism before working for the Stanislaus County Library for 10 years, in Cataloging and Reference, then at the CSU Stanislaus Library as Interlibrary Loan Coordinator for over 20 years, retiring in 2017.
Friends President Denise Nordell worked as a page at the Modesto Library in the mid-‘70s while attending Modesto Junior College. Denise loved the books and the people she met at the library while shelving books, typing overdue notices and working at the circulation desk. Her library job led her to a more than 30-year career with The Modesto and Sacramento Bees. How’s that? Her library job was on the Proposition 13 “cut list.” Someone she worked with casually mentioned, “Have you ever thought about working at The Modesto Bee?” So, Denise marched right down the street to The Bee, applied for a job and went to work in the Advertising Department.
Mary Beth Gish, now a Library Technician at the MJC Library, spent three years in her mid-to-late teens as Modesto Library page. Mary Beth loved the books and the friends she made there and admits that since she loves bringing order out of chaos, shelving books was never a hardship. Besides, she was surrounded by a constant supply of intriguing books to read. The job also broadened her horizons by exposing her to a wide variety of people and the mix of cultures that use the library. As part of her MJC Library job, she trains college students about library work.
Former Modesto Library Page Marcella Arguello (2002-2006) has developed a successful career as a stand-up comedian, writer, and actress. Arguello, who appeared at the Gallo Center in January, apparently doesn’t draw upon her library experience for her current career.
Library Love Runs in This Family
I’ve always considered being a library page as my first “real job.” It was 1965 and I was 16 years old. Part of the lure was the money (a whopping $1.05 per hour!) which was much better than 50 cents an hour I earned babysitting. The real draw though was that the job combined my love of books and children. I spent about three years as a page in the Modesto Library Children’s Department, downstairs in what is now the McHenry Museum.
I recently found an essay that I wrote a few years after getting that job. My duties were to help check out books, put away the books, keep the books straight on the shelves, send out overdue notices, mend books, and help children find books. I even noted that the best reward of the job was the look upon a child’s face when he received his first library card or a child’s enthusiasm for a book she’s just discovered.
I always thought that if my career in journalism didn’t work out, then library science was my next choice. While I never pursued a library career, my love of the library has provided volunteer opportunities and perhaps even contributed to my daughter, Erin, becoming a librarian.
— Maree Hawkins, Friends past-president
The Friends of the Modesto Library is a nonprofit organization that promotes goodwill and support by the community for the Modesto Library, stimulates public awareness of Modesto Library needs, and seeks out sources of cultural and educational programs for the Modesto Library.
The Friends of the Modesto Library is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit registered in California. All contributions are tax-deductible as allowed by law. (ID#77-0038333).
Friends of the Modesto Library raises money to support youth outreach programs like Summer Reading, Diá de los Niños/Libros and Kids Craft Fairs. We volunteer at these and other Library events throughout the year.
Modesto Friends raised money for the giant aquarium inside the Modesto Library, as well as new benches in the Children’s area and new paint throughout the Modesto Library. 2018 projects include continuing education for Library staffers and new books for the Children’s library.
Modesto Friends reach out with programs like supporting the Book Club at Juvenile Hall and Free Books at the Stanislaus County Fair. Our efforts raise awareness of the importance of the Library and of reading. Join us today!
Many local businesses support the Friends of the Modesto Library. We encourage you to support them, as they are supporting us.
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