This week is National Library Week and WLRN reporter Nadege Green talked to her childhood librarian.
Shenita Greaves has worked for the Miami-Dade Public Library System for 36 years. She’s a children services librarian, focusing much of her attention on the young people who come to the libraries.
For much of her career, Greaves worked at the Little River branch.
When WLRN reporter Nadege Green was a little girl, that was her neighborhood library. They recently sat together at the Opa-Locka branch, where Greaves works now, to talk about their connection. You can listen/read part of their conversation below.
Green: When I was in elementary school through middle school I was always at your library, the Little River library, when you worked there.
And Saturdays were always extra special. We would spend the whole day there. Do you remember those days? There would be a line of kids, myself included, waiting to get into the library before you even got there or you were inside but didn't unlock the doors yet.
GREAVES: Y’all would come in and I would go to the store and get little snacks and stuff for the kids to eat. And I just wanted to make it a safe place, as well as a fun place, for you all to be.
You all just made me feel so special, especially like being at the library all day long.
Your library was a lot of fun. We had board game stations—you actually taught me how to play Connect Four in elementary school—, there were movie and popcorn days. And you were always introducing us to new books and authors. You introduced me to Sandra Cisneros.
I never asked you this, but why did you become a librarian?
I wasn't a librarian. I got promoted up. I was a clerk, typist.
It was not my job to tell stories, but I asked the librarian at the head branch, "Can I tell the little kids some stories?" and she said, "Yes." And that's where it started at.
It’s a saying that if you love your job you will never work a day in your life and that’s the way I feel.
With my patrons, the ones that come in the library, I always treat them like I was the person on the other side of the counter.
So when you were that little girl over the counter, I would’ve wanted for somebody to treat me the same way. I just wanted to to know that I did good.
You and I reconnected last year. We hadn't really seen each other or talked to each other in over 15 years. The Miami Dade Public Library System asked me to be a mentor for a student writing contest about unsung heroes.
And the night the students were awarded they asked me to talk about an unsung hero. I told them in advance that I would be talking about you, my childhood librarian.
They invited you but you didn't know why you were there.
They just said that I need to go over to Curtiss Mansion. And I was like, Curtiss Mansion was the opposite direction of me going home.
Tried everything to get out of going to the Curtiss Mansion.
You started talking and you said that, “We didn't have a museum to go to. We had a library to go to.”
You said, “Back at that time, Ms. Shentia was the person that we met when we got to the library.”
I remember when I said your name, when I was like, "Ms. Shenita" you covered your face. You put both hands over your face.
Because I was crying at that particular time. You just never know in life.
I would never have thought that someone would just remember. I know it's in the kids’ hearts, you know, when they see me. But it was just amazing because being someone’s unsung hero is like you have a place in their heart forever.
I just adore you. You're amazing and I'm so glad that I feel like something that I've maybe done in your life has helped you to be that beautiful person that you are now.
You really do have a special place in my heart forever Ms. Shenita.
This post orginally called this week National Library Appreciation Week, but it is National Library Week. We apologize for the error.