1. How did you get involved in military librarianship?
It was 1978 and 90+ degrees in the desert of California. I was working in a Carnegie Library as a Children’s Librarian for the city of El Centro. The government had just announced that librarians could apply using an SF 171 to become Government Librarians. I was able to fit my experience into the small blocks. Six months later, I got a call “Uncle Sam needs you. Do you want to work as an Army Librarian in Germany? Let us know in 48 hours”. Three continents, 30+ libraries (main, branch, bookmobiles, remote site, prison), and 38 years later, I’m still a proud professional Army Librarian.
2. How did you get involved in DMIL?
I wanted to go TDY and meet other professionals at MLTW. We are not alone! We have a great network of professional librarians covering all branch of service and government agencies. I wanted to become more involved in that network.
3. What has been your best experience working for the military?
Moving into the Academic environment when I came to Fort Benning in 2000 was a mild shock. I was used to planning and implementing Children’s SRP programs in Germany. I found out quickly that customers are the same, just the questions are different. The hunt for the answer….continues no matter what age your customer is. They still want the “green book”. For the child it was coming to the Sullivan barracks library, after I had visited her classroom, and asking for the green book on fishes or for the Soldier at Donovan Library asking for the green books. I gave the girl the book on aquarium fish with the green cover, and led the Soldier to the WWII green books. I have also worked with at least ten Library Technicians and volunteers that went back to get their degrees in Masters of Library and Information Science (MLIS), and became Army, DoD or Academic Librarians. The best experiences are continuing.
4. What positions in DMIL have you held?
I was a member of the planning committee and the registrant for MLTW in 2013 in Huntsville, and in 2015 in Washington, DC.
5. If someone were to visit your library or your town, what would you be sure to show them or recommend that they see?
My library of course, staff is friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. We have what you want or know where to find it, and our resources are free. They can come in person or access information through our Virtual Library branch at http://www.benning.army.mil/library/. The Donovan Library was an unknown secret to other libraries until we went virtual. We have a “one of a kind collection” of firsthand accounts of those Soldiers that went to war and came back to write about their experience in the Captains Career Course at Fort Benning. They may be found at http://www.benning.army.mil/library/content/Virtual/virtual.htm.
There are many things to experience once the library closes in the Chattahoochee Valley and surrounding areas like walking the Chattahoochee River Walk in Georgia and Alabama. Trying out Southern comfort food at one of the many great restaurants in “Uptown” Columbus. Come in the spring to see the Azaleas in full bloom in Callaway Gardens before you head over to FDR’s Little White House in Warm Springs. Continue on to Plains, Ga., and visit the boyhood home of Jimmy Carter, who still preaches some Sundays at the Maranatha Baptist Church. Civil War buffs may tour Andersonville Prison Camp along with other Civil War sites and cemeteries and hikers can hike down to the bottom of Providence Canyon. There’s lots do in the Chattahoochee Valley. Y’all come down.
Libraries and books have always been a part of my life. I remember Mrs. Sutton, our local librarian stopping off at the house to deliver a “new book” to my mother, so she could be first to read it. We received prized books as birthday and Christmas presents. I have continued that tradition and find “just the right book” for children of friends. To take it a step further I met my late husband, James K. Hudson, in the Donovan Library.