I’m afraid this week’s post is a somber one. As most of you are aware, nine people were shot and killed during Bible study at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Eight died at the scene and a ninth died at a hospital – six women and three men. The angry side of me wants to censor the shooter’s name and give him zero attention so I can focus on the victims. However, the librarian side of me feels obligated to provide information without bias. With that in mind, I will say the shooter is 21-year-old Dylann Roof and leave it at that.
Among those who lost their lives was Cynthia Hurd, librarian and sister of former North Carolina state Sen. Malcolm Graham. Hurd, 54, has worked in libraries for 31 years and was the manager of the St. Andrews Regional Library. On Thursday, officials closed all 16 libraries and announced they would be naming the library in her honor.
Hurd’s coworker, Kim Odom, said Hurd “really opened up to me what library service meant…(It’s) not just a building where you come for storytime but a place where you really can get help…whether it is helping someone with a resume or helping them use a computer a little bit better.” The whole story on Hurd can be found here.
I’m glad Hurd was such an inspiration to others. We’re all here to help people, it’s part of why we joined the library profession. Day and night, we try to convince friends and family that libraries are more than just big boxes with books inside; We offer so much more than that – services, assistance, programs, presentations, shows, guest speakers, crafts, job help – you all know I could go on for another 12 pages.
Come to think of it, there’s a good chance Hurd was promoting the library while at her church. However, one thing library school doesn’t prepare you for is a shooting. When men and women sign up for the police academy or the armed forces, they know they’re signing up for potential combat. Librarians don’t sign up for getting shot at – especially while at church. In fact, NOBODY signs up for that.
Please keep Cynthia’s family in your thoughts this week, and don’t forget what she stood for. To me, it’s humbling to think she had been working in libraries longer than I’ve been alive. Take a moment this week, weekend or whenever you can to remember why we librarians do what we do…we’re here to help people and make a difference in the lives of those around us. Thank you for making a difference, Cynthia Hurd.
Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian