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    首页 | 学生作文林 | The Many Lives of Lucille Hollenbeck

    The Many Lives of Lucille Hollenbeck

     

    The Many Lives of Lucille Hollenbeck

    (National Scholastic Regional Gold Key Recipient for Journalism)
    by Victoria Pu If you were to look up "Lucille Hollenbeck" [1] in the Oxford American English Dictionary, it would be a great injustice not to find the following listed as synonyms: (noun) reader, community member, leader, listener, and: librarian. As a librarian, Ms. Hollenbeck is also a traffic director who ensures the optimal flow of books and people; a businesswoman who appraises books and makes recommendations in one-on-one transactions; and "Ms. Frizzle," the lively, fictitious Magic School Bus teacher who is an inspiration to her students. … … … … … … … … … … … … … Ms. Hollenbeck, a librarian of the Children's section, appears to be middle-aged but is truly youthful at heart, with her floral-patterned blouses and earrings that are little, dangling spiders. She has shoulder-length brown hair that is neither wavy nor straight and blue-green eyes that harbor a special openness; she once told me: "I think first and foremost, librarians need to have an open mind, not being judgmental about anybody's question, or about his or her subject matter that they're trying to pursue; it's amazing how quickly you can jump to conclusions based on what someone says. Just be very open and not put any judgments on them and really help them. For example, I'm a vegetarian, and when I worked the adult section, people would ask for hunting and fishing books; and their question is just as valuable and deserves just the full amount of my expertise, or my efforts, as any other question that I may agree with more. Sometimes people come up and they're embarrassed about their research—just trying to put people at ease and not have them feel that they're asking a stupid question, or an embarrassing question, or what have you. And just respect. Respect for the person, and respect for what they're looking for." She spoke with a deliberateness that instilled confidence. And in talking with Ms. Hollenbeck, I discovered that her respect for both literature and other people stems from a deeper place: from an ingrained love of her community, because for her, personal enrichment comes from "being exposed to a lot of viewpoints…and the different beliefs" that comprise a community of people. Ms. Hollenbeck's love of her community comes, in large part, through "Story Time," in which each week each librarian is designated a reading block with a specific target audience. "Mine is walkers," Ms. Hollenbeck explains, laying her hands out in front of her, palms open. "That means 12 month to 24 month babies that come with their parents. It's really neat to introduce them already to the love of the library and the love of the books, and to do rhymes, and sing songs, and to just know that I have a small part in saying—showing them that reading and the library are wonderful places. I love that. It's very satisfying," Ms. Hollenbeck said, replacing her hands in her lap when she finished. And together, we sat back in silent contemplation and appreciation, listening to the deep-toned whir of printers that travels from the back office of the library. … … … … … … … … … … … … … The library itself is a sphere of incessant chattering. Upon entering the children's section, I am taken aback by both the quantity of noise and an overwhelming sense of "miniature-ness": small stools tucked beside hunched-over desks under a compressed ceiling and rows of low-hanging lights that threatened to graze the tops of heads more than five feet off the ground. I received a pleasant prick of déjà vu upon sitting in a tiny wooden-back chair, my legs feeling like coils of rope beneath me. Around me, young children in oversized soccer jerseys crowd around tinted computer screens, furiously playing the latest installment of a favorite video game, their laughter rumbling against the constant sea of noise. There is one boy, at most seven years old, wearing a fluorescent orange t-shirt and green crocs that squeak underfoot. He is busy switching from one computer seat to another and back again, claiming expertise in some "multiplayer game" or other. Two sisters with curly ponytails and matching ruffles in their skirts—they look to be about a year or two apart—sit back-to-back in a wooden stool that arches like the cushioned dip of a sunken valley. The younger of the two reaches over once in a while to grab the sleeve of her sister and pull it towards her, groping for control of the computer mouse while doing so. Her sister complains, batting her hand away, and the two return their attention to a screen of castles and forts. … … … … … … … … … … … … … Ms. Lucille Hollenbeck is a traffic director, not of people but of things—things rushing from the shiny black cart of re-categorization to the grisly gray-toned shelves of re-alphabetization. With patrons, however, Ms. Hollenbeck is a helpful neighbor, a tour guide pointing out the landmarks: "Family Movie DVD's," "New Children's Picture Books," "The Junie B. Jones Collection." Ms. Hollenbeck lives in her "library-city" with a sense of duty that is confident but not overbearing, striding through her home of noise like blaring street sounds and the crowded crossroads of barefooted children trampling across soft carpet. Right now she needs to unload one of the shelves nearby. "Sorry, I just need to take a few of these," she says, calmly lifting a column of picture books from their shelf and replacing them on her black, four-wheeled cart. "These picture books are such little gems," she said to me, but she is levelheaded and judicious as always: "Some of them are works of art, but there's the gamut. I mean, there's just really very, very simple picture books that are aimed at, you know, toddlers and babies, and it just goes up from there. There are some picture books that are really quite advanced in nature and content. So there's—there are books out there, and there's this one, and I think it's by Walter Dean Myers, about a shooting," she pauses for effect before going on, "and it was a picture book. And in that format, there's The Dance Macabre, and I thought: 'Oh! The title gives that away. That's uh…Oh! More mature… We're not going to use that in story time.'" … … … … … … … … … … … … … Ms. Hollenbeck is logical in her decision-making, yet also completely whimsical. In college at Berkeley, for instance, she majored in "Create-your-own-major," which allowed her to study Russian sociology, Russian history, and Russian literature all at once; however, she now admits, with a slight blush, a twinkle creeping into her eyes as she lifts her face toward the ceiling lights overhead: "It really wasn't an overly-practical major, but I liked the idea that I was just going to study what's really interesting to me and hoped that it would land me somewhere employed." I was, therefore, not at all surprised to hear her sing the praises of The Night Circus, a favorite of hers that "absolutely tickles [her] magical realism bone!" Being a Children's librarian has indeed exposed her to a wide array of children's titles and authors, such as Kate DiCamillo, one of Ms. Hollenbeck's favorite children's writers. DiCamillo is famous for Because of Winn-Dixie and won a Newbery Medal in 2004 for her novel The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread; her titles and animal protagonists are often whimsical and hilarious. Kate DiCamillo herself once said of stories: "Stories are hiding waiting everywhere. You just have to open your eyes and your heart" ("Biography Kate DiCamillo"). In adult's literature, Ms. Hollenbeck enjoys stories set in faraway times and places. "It's really helpful to know of different cultures, in different countries and time periods…And I personally think it enriches me to read these books for myself," she says. And it is this natural love for learning and adventure that frequently lights up the Community Hall. … … … … … … … … … … … … … The Community Hall is probably an auditorium of some sort, with a spacious ceiling upheld by pseudo-buttresses that resemble the skeletal structures of pterodactyl wings. A set of dark red curtains covers a professional stage that overlooks the front of the room; light filters through a row of square, rigid windows that surround the room where the ceiling meets the walls. There is an overwhelming sense of structural confinement. But right now, the Community Hall can only be described as a place bubbling with the essence of "community" that spans several generations: toddlers hobbling about on stubbly legs, running after baby carriages; parents (mostly mothers) laden with knapsacks and jackets, proudly overseeing the activities. And in the rows of chairs facing the stage, I am left in the quiet company of grandparents content to watch from afar. "Chisels, saws, and even dental drills are used to excavate such fossils," Ms. Hollenbeck is reading aloud to a gaggle of wide-eyed 3 to 6 year-olds who have gathered in The Hall to participate in a series of dinosaur-related activities: designing their own dinosaurs out of dried pasta, creating fossil imprints in wet clay, and labeling a timeline of the dinosaur periods. "This is the Baurosaurus; his name means 'heavy lizard,'" Ms. Hollenbeck continues, deepening her voice for emphasis. The children are evidently pleased and some burst into high-pitched giggles. And a great sense of unity fills the auditorium as she laughs with them: a soft chuckle that bubbles in her throat, pin-balling against her vocal chords. "Now you're going to learn the Latin names and meanings of these dinosaurs and apply this knowledge in creating drawings of your own dinosaurs, such as the duck-footed, fish-faced lizard and the large-tailed, thunder-lizard," Ms. Hollenbeck was perfectly in-character as Ms. Frizzle, the spunky, fun-loving science teacher from the beloved Magic School Bus series. She was wearing a long dress depicting colorful, "real-life" dinosaurs—as opposed to cartoon "cut-outs"—over a pair of satin stockings laced with flower patterns. She had traded her "more professional" earrings for something a little more befitting the occasion: silver stegosauruses that hung like glitter framing her face. Her hair, which she'd dyed an autumn red for the event, was pinned up in a bun, loose strands trailing like rivulets down the nape of her neck. "Have any of you ever heard of the word 'Jurassic'?" she asked, her smile broadening as the room filled with excited exclamations of "oh yeah!" and "I know!" Ms. Frizzle would have been proud. … … … … … … … … … … … … … Later, when the kids disperse to work on their Dino-projects, Ms. Hollenbeck is a red sparkle, like the North Star that completes the picture of the sky; she is nowhere—and everywhere. One moment I'll spot her on the stage, like a sailor navigating the helm of her ship—Table 1 needs more clay and Table 2 more construction paper—and other times she'll disappear into the rumbling waves of young children skirting around tables and parents holding plates of wet clay. And even as the afternoon dwindles, and the activities in the Community Hall begin to fizzle out, I spot "Ms. Frizzle," helping out the dawdlers who can't decide what they really want to name their dinosaurs, and the stragglers who need "just one more macaroni." But even in cleaning up, Ms. Hollenbeck embodies good humor: "I'm even messier than the kids!" she joked as she spilled a plate of dry macaroni, sending small, brittle chunks of pasta skipping across the table. … … … … … … … … … … … … … Ms. Hollenbeck always appears to be smiling when she works. She enjoys what she does and believes all librarians need to "want to be there [and have] a real passion and love for the job," but she also absolutely hates "policing" the kids. She says: "There have been jobs when…a lot of your job [is]…policing behavior, and I don't like that. I'm not a street cop," she laughs, an honest, open-mouthed laugh that sparkles in her eyes and tinkles in her throat. … … … … … … … … … … … … … Despite—or perhaps because of—the city-like ambience of the library, there is a palpable sense of organized chaos that marks the quality of the air in the busy-body atmosphere of the Children's section. The breathy voices of children running through aisle upon straightened aisle of books are the baseline for the greater disturbance found in their sporadic shrieks of glee. The unspoken rule of orderliness is vaguely preserved but teeters on the brink of chaos because there is no one to reprimand. Books do not go flying off shelves and children do not smack foreheads, but beyond the intrinsic degree of order, I remember a childhood right to stir in the bustling midst of spontaneity. To my right, a younger library worker becomes a street-side staple, sporting brightly-adorned headphones while busily restocking shelves with misplaced books. He has formed quite an admirable pile, which balances precariously on the edge of the shelf and shakes each time he picks the top item from the pile. … … … … … … … … … … … … … By stark contrast, there is a quality of monotony in the air "Upstairs," home to the Adult and Teen book sections. Quiet-footed librarians pad back and forth across soft carpets that absorb their footfalls, while students weighed down by invisible backpacks of the school day scoot between aisles, looking for some dense Joyce novel or other—or was it Nabokov? Row after row of research indexes blur with shelf after plastic shelf. Library workers inch around, dragging tan carts whose tiered stacks resemble the two flights of stairs that section off "Upstairs" from the Children's area—stairs that wind around a glass-screen column. This library is a hub of quiet life. Here, the tables and chairs are normal-sized, and the people speak in hushed undertones of raspy whispers that make me yearn for the vibrant fluorescence of streetlights and honking traffic in the Children's section, with its "Magic School Buses" and all its underlying chaos. Work Cited "Biography Kate DiCamillo." Scholastic Read Every Day Lead a Better Life. Scholastic Inc., 2013. Web. 17 Dec 2013. [1] The name of the profile subject has been changed to protect her privacy.

     

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