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The 'big side' of the library

Posted By: David Chung

My father was old school, he was professor at UNI, a gentleman and a scholar. He loved my mother and us kids deeply. not only was he a gentleman, he was a 'gentle' man. Quiet, unassuming, not given to self-promotion, slow to anger -- that was my father.

I do remember one incident from my childhood when I saw my dad get mad and 'read the riot act' to someone.

I was in second grade at Price Laboratory School in Cedar Falls. Price Lab was a K-12 laboratory school, attached to the College of Education at the University of Northern Iowa. My class went to the library to check out books and I wanted to check out 'Jane's All the World's Aircraft', the standard reference on civilian and military aircraft around the globe. The librarian, would not let me check it out because it came from the 'big' (high school) side of the library. He could not imagine that a 2nd grader could be interested in such a thing!

When my father heard about it, we marched in the next day and he told the librarian the he 'could not believe' that the school would have a policy that would prevent a child from exploring those things interesting to him. The idea that there was a forbidden 'big' side to the library was anathema to him. Needless to say, after that I was free to check out any book I wanted to. I remember being enthralled, as a second grader, with books like '30 Seconds over Tokyo' and I am a voracious reader and amateur history buff to this day!

While I am not the man my father was, I am definitely his son. Some 22 years later, my own son, Jedidiah, was enrolled second grade at the Price Lab. The students in his class were reading books of their own choice. He had forgotten his book at home so he was sent to the library to get a book to read. In the library, he chose 'The Hobbit' since he was already reading it at home. Things had come full circle, different librarian, but he would not let him check out 'The Hobbit' because it came from the 'big side'. The next day, I had the opportunity to uphold a family tradition and explain to the librarian that my son was indeed capable of reading Tolkein as a second grader and that I hoped the school would do everything possible to support and encourage him.

My father encourage all of us to follow what ever academic pursuits interested us. He did everything he could to encourage and support us.

On this Fathers' Day, I miss him so!


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