By GAIL FINEBERG
Tired but exhilarated at the end of a long day in Washington, D.C., Gayle Evans (whose career as a public and children's librarian has spanned more than 55 years) sat on a bench facing the circulation desk of the Main Reading Room during an open house for ALA delegates.
"I am so excited to be in the Library of Congress," she said, looking up at the soaring gold dome supported by marble columns. "I have dreamed of this for a very long time."
She can't remember exactly when her love affair with books began, but she remembers hanging out in the primary school library with her best friend, also a reader, and she remembers working in the library of Chicago's DuSable High School. "I developed a love of reading then," she said.
A conservatory-trained singer, Evans earned a bachelor's degree in music and business and a master's degree in library and information science, both from Chicago State University. She later completed a doctorate in curriculum and instruction at the University of Illinois. For the past 12 years, she has taught prospective teachers how to use library resources in the classroom.
Through Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) she learned about the Library's educational outreach program to help teachers use primary sources found on the Library's Web site to excite interest in the classroom. Twice an instructor from DePaul University in Chicago came to Evans's class to guide student teachers to the Library's primary sources.
"My students were really excited," Evans said. "They were not aware of the resources at the Library of Congress."
Teaching children a love of books is essential, she emphasized. "Even when a mother's carrying a child, she should be telling stories."
Gail Fineberg is editor of the Library's staff newsletter, The Gazette.