Profile By: Mary Henley

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Part Two Sparking Interest: The Bookmobile and Puppet Shows

Price bequeathed her love of reading to the children of the Omaha community. She began her career with the Omaha Public Library by working on the bookmobile. The bookmobile mostly served Catholic schools and was only sent out by request. Price recalls that spreading literacy was a difficult and daunting task, which was seemingly impossible at times:

“We went out to east Omaha one summer… the children would come and they were very poor children, their parents would still be in bed. One little boy would come every time with a sack of candy and his parents had given him money and told him to go get some breakfast…Those children bothered me because their parents couldn’t read or write, and we couldn’t see much hope for them.  Being there one hour a week, we couldn’t do much for them; they would take out books and we wouldn’t get most of them back. That was par for the course”(Price).

Although it was difficult for Price to admit defeat in her quest to expand reading in the Omaha area, she did conquer some battles:

“I had a little girl at Swanson [branch of the Omaha Public Library] and she looked as though she was not finding anything she wanted. So I said, ‘Can I help you find something?’ She replied, ‘I don’t know what I want.’ So I took her to couple of real good ones [books]. I told her about the book and the next time she came in she said, ‘Will you show me some more books today?’ After that I had her caught”(Price).

Price worked diligently to keep the children’s interest not only reading, but in the library as well. She created puppet shows and book talks, which made her a few friends along the way.  A second grade student, always outfitted in a cowboy hat, was interested in participating in the puppet shows, but sharp reading skills were required in order to read the dialogue.  Price gave the little girl a copy of the script to take home and practice. The following week, the little girl came back to try out for the part. Price told the little girl that trying out was not necessary and granted her the role. The second grader was perfection. Not only could she walk behind the stage and not be seen (due to her small stature), but she could read faster than the pages of dialogue appeared. The little girl enjoyed the time she spent at the library so much that she wanted to work at the library over the summer. The little girl in the cowboy hat worked at the front desk with the clerks that summer.

 

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Part Three Preserving History and Fantasy

Price not only arranged book talks and puppet shows with dolls and clothing that she had sewn herself, she also created a historical children’s literature section for the library. The collection is compiled of books from other branches of the Omaha Public Libraries throughout the city. The historical section was not comprised of books based on historical events, but rather children’s books that were published before the 1960s. Had Price not stepped in and repurposed the children’s books, they would have been rendered useless and thrown out. These books proved to be not only useful to Omaha children and homeschooled students, but to students studying to be librarians and educators. Price tells a story of a college student she had spotted in the children’s historical section over several days. When Price asked why he was there, he replied, “I have