Profile By: Mary Henley

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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 been all over the country looking for certain books [for my doctorate] to see what they were like, and this is the only place where I found them” (Price).

The reason Price could not stand to see the historical books tossed aside to allow more room for new books is not only because of the nostalgic attachment, but because of the content as well. The books that were recovered came out of the “Golden Age”, described by Price as books written in the 1950’s and 1960’s, a time when children’s literature was at its best. She explains that contemporary books tend to focus on social issues such as “divorce and race,” which concerns Price. While the issues of divorce and race are a harsh reality for many children today, Price argues that literature should serve as an escape from these issues. Reading about social issues that affect their everyday lives, “makes their world even smaller. They have no escape from their problems. I think that is doing the children a disservice, and that is why I think the older books are valuable. There was a certain amount of fantasy” (Price). Enriching the lives of children through reading was always her top priority. Price truly cared about the well-being of children, and her way of taking care of them was through literature. When asked if she felt that she had affected the lives of children through the library, Price responded, “I think many of them became readers. They associated the library with a pleasant experience.  Books… have a great impact on ideas and a way of life” (Price).

 

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Part Four More Personal than Professional

Price also valued her role as advocate for the children who visited the library, feeling that she was their representative in the adult world.  She also had many strong opinions about being a librarian. “The adults will complain if they don’t like things, but the children don’t. At least, they don’t know how, or where to complain if they do [have concerns].” Price remarked that she felt it was her personal duty to protect the wishes of the children she served, especially as a children’s librarian: “Children’s librarians are more people-oriented and adult librarians are more book-oriented…” (Price).  Given her strength of conviction, it is easy to understand why Price was promoted to a supervisory position in one of the library branches, which shattered both gender barriers and specialty areas that were favored at the time. While Price was never