Return to the main index.

Amy Louise Ranger
the journey of a librarian

I spent my childhood in rural southwestern Michigan, where I was given the freedom to observe the natural world, read books, and create works of art. From the age of seven I was allowed to ride my bicycle to the town library, where I would check out as many books as I could fit into my wire basket, take them home to my tree-fort, and not climb out of the tree until the books had all been read. My sister was the "athletic child" and I was the "good student." I read constantly, even while using a riding lawnmower to mow the lawn, much to my father's dismay. My favorite books included biographies of historical figures, and mystery series such as Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden, and Alfred Hitchcock's The Three Investigators. I began reading Agatha Christie and Victoria Holt mysteries in junior high school. The world of fiction was expanded for me after high school, when I served in the United States Air Force and discovered the genre of men's adventure fiction (Robert Ludlum, Ian Fleming, Frederick Forsyth) in the base library at Aviano Air Base, Italy.

I returned to the Midwest after my service overseas, and attended college at Ferris State College (now University) where I studied Graphic Arts and General Printing. Work in the printing industry took me to Chic
ago for a few years, and then I returned to the bustling metropolis of Kalamazoo, near the community where I was raised. I worked part-time in a general bookshop in the area, and met a group of science-fiction fans who pulled me into their orbit. In 1991 I married one of those SF fans, Tullio Proni. I was truly blessed to have had a supportive husband through university and graduate school.

From 1992 to the end of 1999 I worked for Jim Huang and Jennie Jacobson at Deadly Passions Bookshop. We specialized in mystery, romance, and science fiction books. It was a great opportunity for me to learn more about the publishing industry, bookselling, and book collecting, and Jim was a fantastic mentor and resource. I began collecting first edition mysteries in 1992, with a primary focus on novels set in Italy. Prominent authors in my collection include Donna Leon, Magdalene Nabb, and Michael Dibdin. I studied creative writing with Ms. Leon while I was stationed in Italy (she taught for the University of Maryland extension service) and was thrilled to see her first book in print, Death at LaFenice. Changing demographics and my desire to move on to other things led to the demise of Deadly Passions in 1999. The store was resurrected in Carmel, Indiana in 2003 as The Mystery Company. Jim Huang is also the publisher of The Drood Review of Mystery, a semi-pro mystery fanzine for which I occasionally review new mysteries.

I worked for four years in Western Michigan University's Waldo Library. My cataloging job was interesting, but I felt isolated from the rest of the library in that position. I found it difficult to understand the connection between the Cataloging Department and Interlibrary Loan, Reference, and many other departments. My need to understand more about the field of librarianship led me to apply to a graduate school where I would be able to pursue a Masters degree in Library Science.

In December of 2005, when this essay was written, I was halfway through the distance-education program at Southern Connecticut State University.

All of my coursework has been done in an online environment. I enjoy the intellectual challenge offered by the program, but it has not been painless. Distance learning, especially at the graduate school level, requires a high degree of self-motivation. One must also have an agile mind and an ability to perform research quickly and effectively, through a combination of web-accessible and local resources. My local academic and public libraries, and the librarians within, have provided me with a great variety of resources and support.

Becoming a librarian brings many of my hobbies and passions full circle: books, reading, graphic design and printing, and life-long learning are all very important aspects of my personal and professional life.

As of 2007, I am the Catalog Librarian at Grand Valley State University, with a primary focus on knowing, understanding, and applying national and international bibliographic standards to the records in our library catalog. I am the primary resource for questions about the cataloging module of the Voyager system. I am also involved with the planning and development of the university's Institutional Repository, specifically with the metadata schemes that will be employed. I am also an "out" and partnered lesbian, active in the LGBT community on campus and with the Religious Society of Friends in Grand Rapids.

Last updated 2007-06-09. ALR.