The Past Informs the Present — Part One

dmccsnappLately, each time I sit down to write, the story that wants to be told is the one about pioneering children’s librarians and how their work connected to early child development theorists/psychologists. My mind generates this interest again and again. I sit down to my computer and, like clockwork, my fingers light up the keyboard with fresh discoveries.

What is it about the stories that won’t leave us alone?

Having said this, I know it isn’t at all unusual to find myself turning to the same subjects in my creative work. I have several shelves in my home devoted to books on the creative process, and they all say, to one degree or another, that the subjects that want to be addressed manifest themselves as though they were separate entities. Ideas have the potential to be demanding.

Natalie Goldberg, a writing teacher I loved in my mid-twenties and still rely on for her wisdom on writing, has published countless essays as well as a book, Long Quiet Highway, about her teacher Katagiri Roshi. In these numerous published pieces, she says that she wrote about him constantly, and that she couldn’t help writing about him. Nine hundred and ninety-nine times out of a thousand, when she sat down to write, it was about Katagiri Roshi.

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Many of my posts to this blog will be about the work of these pioneering children’s librarians and how they established the foundation for our profession. It also helps that my thesis is on this subject (which surely explains why I’m obsessed?).

I’ll begin this series with children’s librarian, Anne Carroll Moore, who introduced “a new concept of reading in relation to children,” according to her biographer Frances Clarke Sayers (also a children’s librarian).

I am looking forward to sharing what children’s librarians past have said of our profession. The past informs the present.

by Dominique McCafferty-Snapp