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Florida Libraries with Stories

Posted on Monday, March 19th, 2012.

Micanopy, Florida is a small town in Alachua County, just outside Gainesville, and is known for being the home of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, author of the young adult novel, The Yearling. It is also the current home of Ginny Beam, another woman devoted to her love of storytelling. Ginny was interviewed by her friend, Sally Stein, during StoryCorps Door-to-Door’s visit to the Alachua County Library District in Gainesville.

This trip was a result of the Alachua library’s being awarded the National Medal by the Institute of Museum and Library Services as one of ten outstanding institutions in the country that excel in community service and outreach. Dedicated librarians like as Ginny are the reason libraries like this thrive and remain a hub for all members of the community.

StoryCorps participants Ginny Beam (l) and Sally Stein (r)

Ginny told Sally of how her love of books stems from her father’s storytelling, which was always personalized with details about Ginny and her friends’ lives. As a librarian, Ginny has a motherly attitude toward her library and its patrons, always making sure to be available if anyone needs help but never being pushy. She has memorized the Dewey Decimal System and remembers sending people to section 635 for gardening or to 977 for Florida history. She works diligently to create an orderly but welcoming environment and knows when to step back (like, leaving alone the kids who hide in corners to peek at pregnancy books for some sex education).

During the conversation, Ginny shared just how much the library means to her, and it was inspiring to hear about the joy that sharing information and stories has brought to her life. In fact, Ginny says, she would like to be remembered as “Miss Ginny from the library” and hopes to have that written on her gravestone.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awards The National Medal to five libraries and five museums for extraordinary civic, educational, economic, environmental, and social contributions to their communities. This award is the nation’s highest honor for museums and libraries, and StoryCorps is proud to record the stories of these distinguished institutions. Click here for a full list of this year’s winners.

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