Miss Agnes McMillan served as PVLD's first (and for the time of her tenure only) Librarian from 1930 to her death in 1956. During the course of my 8 years at PVLD I have heard snippets about her, but really didn't know much. I have always, for example, loved the story told by one of our book sale volunteers about what a momentous occasion it was for her when Miss McMillan allowed her to go into the "adult" stacks at a younger age than was generally permitted, giving rise to questions from her mother when she came home with a stack of books from the adult collection. The mother's concerns were allayed when she learned that "Miss McMillan said I could read these".
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet a lifelong Peninsula resident, Mrs. Jane Armstrong Eubank Hall, aged 90, who back in the early 1930's was a "library kid". The family, which for a time had no father, lived near the Malaga Cove Library. Mrs. Hall's mother was a businesswoman who founded an insurance agency in the Malaga Cove Plaza and, distracted by the demands of business and the demands of single parenthood, allowed Jane to spend many hours at the Malaga Cove Library where she came to view Miss McMillan as a second mother.
Local History Librarian Marjeanne Blinn and Librarian Dennis Piotrowski have been gathering information and documentation about Miss McMillan to share with Mrs. Hall, and came across this 1930 letterfrom her to Mr. Charles Cheney, then-Secretary of the Board of Library Trustees - Download Miss McMillan letter in which she reports on, and gently educates him about, library operations.
While the letter certainly gives a glimpse into library operations in an earlier time, much of what she wrote made me realize how little things some things have changed. Yes, the "accession book" has been replaced by the Integrated Library System and the typewriter by the computer, but I bet there is not a library out there that has enough trash cans or has not dealt with the plumbing problems caused by inappropriate waste disposal. We still spend a lot of time trying to get high school reading lists and visiting school classrooms, librarian still go out of their way to give the kind of service Miss McMillan provided to the "boy at the plunge", our meeting rooms are still heavily used by community groups, Library Directors still wrestle with budgets, and we still value and rely on community donations like that from the Friends of Art.
At the time when changing technology makes the future of libraries seem cloudy I found it reassuring to know that much of what we do is at its heart unchanged from 80+ years ago...