By Richard Mabey Jr.
The gift of trust is one of the greatest blessings that one person can bestow upon another. Such a gift was given to me by Mayor David Baker, former Mayor of Lincoln Park. Mayor Baker appointed me to the high position of serving on the Executive Board of the Lincoln Park Public Library. I was sworn in to office on New Year’s Day on the dawn of Year 2000.
I took this volunteer position very, very seriously. It was a lot of hard work and required a certain, steadfast dedication. It was truly a labor of love. I learned a lot during my four-year term. It was truly a golden opportunity.
I learned the mechanics of the small-town library system, way beyond the Dewey Decimal System. There were times when I would have a thousand and one things pressing on my mind. At the time, I was working in the Editorial Department at an advertising agency. The demands of impossible deadlines were talking a toll on me. A dear aunt was very ill and in the hospital. My Mom had just been diagnosed with a brain aneurysm and needed to have brain surgery. And, I was in a most rocky relationship with a woman whom I simply adored.
So, with all that going on, the roof of the library had sprung a leak. I remember this so well. I was at the deli of the local grocery store on a Saturday morning. I was holding my little number ticket, waiting my turn to order some potato salad and a half-pound of turkey. I could feel the burden of all these things weighing heavily upon my mind. And along came dear, sweet Mrs. MacGruder, whom I knew from church.
“You know, my grandson had to do a report on Daniel Boone and there wasn’t one single book in the whole library about Daniel Boone. I had to drive my grandson to Pequannock to take out a book on Daniel Boone. Ya’ really outa get more books on Daniel Boone in the library,” Mrs. MacGruder firmly told me as I stood there with the Saturday morning crowd at the grocery store deli.
I took a deep breath, inwardly prayed for patience, then kindly told Mrs. MacGruder that I would bring it up at the next Library Board meeting.
“Well, ya’ really should. How many books on Daniel Boone do you have in the library? Only one or two, I’d say. Ya’ know, Daniel Boone was a great American. You really should have more than just one or two books on Daniel Boone in the library,” Mrs. MacGruder reiterated to me.
Once again, I took a deep breath and thanked Mrs. MacGruder for her interest in the betterment of the library. Then, I inwardly thanked the good Lord when my number was called to place my order with the deli clerk.
As funny as it may sound, looking back, I actually am grateful to Mrs. MacGruder for nagging me about there not being enough books about Daniel Boone in the library. But in defense of the Lincoln Park Public Library, one of the fourth-grade classes were studying Daniel Boone in their history class and the teacher gave a class assignment to write an essay about Daniel Boone.
Of course, any of the many encyclopedias, at the library, provided a wealth of information about Daniel Boone’s life. Mrs. MacGruder awoken me to the need for the library to provide more books about the great American men and women who helped shaped America’s history for the better.
From a leaking roof, to concerns about there not being enough books about Daniel Boone, to plumbing problems in the Men’s Room, to coordinating work-hour schedules, to staying within the budget, to safeguarding what the children were checking out on the Internet after school; it was all a most wondrous and valuable education to me. I learned, first hand, what was really involved in the management process of a small-town library.
Looking back, I am most grateful to Mayor David Baker’s gift of trust that he gave to me, in appointing me to serve on the Executive Library Board of the Lincoln Park Public Library. Gifts do not always come in brightly colored wrapping paper. Sometimes, they are even invisible to the naked eye. For the gift of trust is beyond the third dimension.
It was over 20 years ago that I was sworn in on that fateful New Year’s Day, to serve a four-year term on the library board. It was over 20 years ago that Mayor Baker shook my hand and told me that he expected me to do my best for the town’s library.
Looking back at my term of service on the library board, there were some things that I may have done differently now. I made some mistakes. But I held 100 percent perfect attendance at the library board meetings, all four years. I did my best, even though at times, some people in my old hometown didn’t think so. But that’s the way life is at times.
Serving on the library board was one of the most wonderful opportunities, ever granted unto me. So, to Mayor David Baker, thank you for your vote of trust and confidence. It meant the earth to me.
Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put on the subject line: My Life Publications.