Librarians Must Have Vast Background of Knowledge
By Andrew Soboeiro
For many, "librarian" does not feature prominently in the list of prestigious careers.
The stereotypical librarian is a stingy, wrinkled hag, obsessed with guarding an eerily silent domain full of books no one has read. A librarian, it is imagined, serves no purpose but to protect books that no one would steal anyway.
Kaye Brown seems to have proven this stereotype false. Having worked for decades in the library, she has used her position to become enmeshed in the county's culture and history.
With regular access to an endless supply of books (some of which actually would be worth stealing), she has become a veritable literary expert, familiar with everything from photo biographies to historical fiction to children's books.
Brown is a true Moore County native, having lived in the area her entire life, as have her ancestors for generations.
She attended Pinehurst High School, then Central Carolina Community College, studying via distance education through the Library and Information Technology Program.
She now works for the Sandhills Regional Library System, alternating as librarian between the Carthage and Robbins public libraries.
"I have an interest in my family history," she says. "At one point I did a lot of genealogy research, but as I get older my life gets busier. I thought, as you get older, you had time to do more things, but my time is so filled.
"I have a personal interest in the county's history, because my family is based out of here, so I'm excited about working with the local history collection in Carthage."
When asked about her favorite books, Brown hesitates, having to weigh carefully an abundance of books that she has encountered in the library. She pulls out several books from the nearby shelves, opening them up to demonstrate directly their value.
"Through the pictures, I could see what people went through, what life was like during the Depression," she says while holding a photo biography. "One can look through these people's eyes and see so much, but that makes one want to find out even more. These photographs are just amazing." The biography is full of pictures taken by Dorothea Lange, including the famous 1936 "Migrant Mother."
Brown closes the biography and opens a children's book, "Flotsam," by David Wiesner.
"I love the children's books that come in," she says. "There are some really neat ones. I like picture books that have fewer words, so the pictures tell the story, and you can throw in your own interpretations. Wiesner has some gorgeous illustrations. You have to look all over the place for things in order to understand the pictures. Almost all of his books have these wild characteristics."
Even after decades in the field, Brown continues to enjoy working for the library system. She happily promotes the public libraries, enthusiastically describing their more useful programs.
"One really neat thing about it is that we can borrow from one another," she says, "so if we don't have a book, but Vass has one, we borrow from Vass so we can fill the patrons' needs. That makes everything a lot easier.
"The other great thing about working in a smaller library setting is that you get to know everyone, and this community has been just wonderful. I don't live very far from here, but everyone has been very welcoming and supportive and has made me feel right at home."
Working for the library also provides opportunities to help the community.
"We have a meeting room that tutors from the Moore County Literacy Council frequently use. Just recently, the Council loaned us a laptop and CDs that teach basic skills such as phonics and ESL. Patrons are allowed to use them in the library.
"We have adult programs here on different subjects. We've had book talks by authors, mainly local authors," she says.
A new program is starting, a new series provided by the Moore County Job Links career center. The center partners with other agencies to help people find jobs.
"There are a lot of people in Moore County, particularly in the northern part, who are unemployed and cannot even afford to look for work," Brown says. "I feel certain that this program series will be very helpful and interesting to these people. They'll be able to interact with individuals from each of these agencies to address where they are in terms of employment."
There is also a story time there every Tuesday from 10 to 11 a.m., for the benefit of preschool children. The story is followed by crafts and a short movie.
"We have another service called Dial-A-Story; cassettes are loaded into the phone system, and kids can dial that number from home and listen to a story. The number is (910) 948-3322, and it's a free service," says Brown.
Andrew Soboeiro served as a newsroom intern during the holidays. He is a student at UNC-Chapel Hill.
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