I want to be your librarian: guest-post by a returning Alaskan

By Michael Catoggio
Special Collections Librarian, Loussac Library

About a month into my new job, I picked up the ringing phone and said “This is Michael in the Alaskana section here at Anchorage Public Library.”

A familiar voice replied, “Is this the Michael I think it is?”

I had been out of the state the past three years “searching for home.” I have been doing that much of my life, but that’s another story. My wife and I moved back to upstate New York in 2005 – back to our birthplace; to dear, old friends; to the ghosts; to a dwindling population of aunts and uncles; to the golden, autumnal Hudson Valley light.

About two years into the adventure we found home.

So we moved back to Anchorage in November, 2008.

It was great hearing Andromeda’s voice. I told her I had “found her blog” and was not terribly surprised that she was at the center of an effort to create a sense of community among Alaskan writers. Now she had found me, in a chair occupied by my wonderful friend Bruce Merrill, who had recently retired after a stellar career as the Alaska Bibliographer here at Anchorage Public.

The great thing about being a librarian (ok, one of the many great things) is that, in most communities, the library is the center point of the literary community. In my career, I’ve had the pleasure of working with scores of writers, including a few Pulitzer Prize winners. One “future Pulitzer winner” hung around my local history collection back east for years, hungry and semi-employed, before he burst upon the national literary scene like a rocket on the Fourth of July.

Oh yes, Andromeda had a reference question. I found what I could, apologizing that “I was not Bruce” one too many times. But our conversation circled back to the rich and deep community of writers here in Alaska.

Kindly, Andromeda invited me to connect with you all via this blog. You see, I want to be your librarian. I want to share this rich collection here at Loussac Library with you. I want to buy your books. I want to invite you in for a book talk, to foster connections between you and your audience. I want you to come in for a personal tour, a cup of tea, a chat. I will give you an insider’s tour of the nooks and crannies in the Alaska Wing. The crannies, btw, have a GREAT view!

I am already using 49 Writers as a “collection development” tool. Our collection is the flower bed – you all are the seeds and starters. I want to plant a garden with your images and dreams.

So, please make this place your place. There are great spaces to work (we’re wireless, of course), and thousands of voices (silently) shouting from the books and media – inspiration everywhere. Most importantly, and you know this already, we (the librarians) are your friends. Like dear friends, we’re always here for you.

3 thoughts on “I want to be your librarian: guest-post by a returning Alaskan”

  1. Welcome, Michael. I spent many, many hours perusing the Alaska Collection last spring, gathering primary source material for Picture This, Alaska. It’s a great place to hang out, and I look forward to other projects drawing me back there soon. In the meantime, thanks for watching here for what’s happening with Alaskan authors.

  2. Charlotte Glover

    Welcome back Michael! Loussac is lucky to have you and the history collection is in good hands. I loved your comments about wanting to be “your librarian.” That’s exactly how I feel about out cozy library in Ketchikan. Isn’t Alaska just the best place ever to do the work we do?!

  3. Michael! Boy do we miss you in New York and this posting just reminds me how much. I knew you a short time but feel blessed to be able to call you ‘friend’. This post makes me want to fly to Alaska, just to use your library. Great job!

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