Remembrances of a Great Librarian

I had the pleasure of attending the library dedication at Noble Elementary School this week. The library is being renamed in honor of Mrs. Annette Hall who served there for over two decades. I did not get to know Mrs. Hall well because she retired at the end of my first year here. By the end of the dedication though, I had no doubt that there could not have been a more fitting tribute. There were some great guests who talked about her and how she touched them, but what really made the event special was the story Annette told. I asked her if I could reprint it in my blog and like any great librarian, she was happy to share. So below are her remarks to the audience, I only wish now I could have spent some time in her library.

Annette Hall’s Remarks

Since I am a librarian, I am going to be true to my profession… I am going to tell you a story this evening based on a very wonderful book. The title of the novel is The Hobbit. The author is Tolkien. The book was actually published in September of 1937 – 75 years ago. A movie based on this book is actually being released this December. So you now have plenty of time to go out and buy that book or dig it out of your bookshelves to read before watching the movie! Better still, check it out of the library!

The main character of The Hobbit is Bilbo Baggins. Among many things, this hobbit enjoys flowers, fireworks, maps, geography, his smoking pipe, lots of visitors, plenty of food – most days eating two breakfasts and more often than not, two suppers. I like Bilbo.

Anyway, as the story begins, Bilbo is visited by Gandalf – the great wizard – who alludes that things are about to change in Bilbo’s very comfortable life. And indeed it does. That very next morning following Gandalf’s visit, 13 dwarves knock on Bilbo’s front door and soon his hobbit home is filled with raucous laughter, music, storytelling, and the beginnings of an adventure that could cost each of them their life.

When we think of the characters in this famous novel, we may not remember the names of the 13 dwarves – but we know that their part in this adventure was absolutely necessary to its outcome. To Bilbo’s success.

Several years later in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, history repeats itself as another unlikely hobbit, Frodo, Bilbo’s nephew, is also chosen to be part of a very dangerous quest. You see, The Nameless Enemy has risen once again. The Shire –the home of the hobbits – is threatened as are the people and the land surrounding the Shire and the towns and villages beyond.

Eventually, it is decided at the Council of Elron that the evil forces can only be stopped by destroying the ring of power. While the task eventually falls to Frodo to actually destroy the ring, there are eight other members in The Fellowship, The Fellowship of the Ring. They are absolutely crucial in the success of the quest. For the most part, they are unwavering in their support of Frodo. It is indeed their friendship, their presence, and their participation that eventually defeats the enemy.

Time and again in these books by Tolkien, the unsuspecting hobbits, Bilbo and Frodo, wonder about their situations – Where am I? Why am I here? What was I thinking? Why was I chosen? It is in the first book of the trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, that Gandalf answers the question for them and for us, the readers. Gandalf says, “You have not been chosen, Frodo, for any merit that others do not possess.”

The idea of the truth behind that statement is what I want to share with you.

You see, a library program – even with a solid librarian – is only as effective as the administrators who support and fund the program; only as effective as the teachers who embrace the literature and research units; only as effective as the students who actually use the library; only as effective as the parents who volunteer day by day; only as effective as the support people on and off the school campus-the Technology Department, Central Office, and the community-at-large.

Knowing my own strengths and my own weaknesses, of which there are plenty, my vision of the library program at Noble was always to build partnerships within this learning community. The wonderful thing about being a librarian- in my mind – is that I was in a position that enabled me to connect with all of these groups. Through collaboration and participation – on good and bad days – our COMBINED efforts and resources allowed us, I believe, to foster student learning in a holistic manner. I believe that student learning was empowered because of our COLLECTIVE effort.

It has been my very good fortune and great privilege to have been at Noble Middle School for all but one of my 35 years. At this school I have received – on the most part – unwavering support from my principals and assistant principals, my teachers, the students, the parents, our support staff, and the community-at-large. I am grateful for all of them – for all of you.

THANK YOU FOR LETTING ME GO DOWN A “HOBBIT TRAIL” in telling my story. Like Bilbo and Frodo, I do know that I was chosen for this honor because of the contributions made by many people to the library program. Thank you for your presence here this evening and for your goodwill. In the words of St. Paul of Tarsus, “I thank my God for every remembrance of you.”

Annette, former Noble librarian, with Principal Wade Smith

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