The first thing you noticed about Linda Duncan was her hair. Long and brown, it went down her back with grace. She always had a easy style of walking-even when she was helping someone with a report, she never hurried, she took her time, making sure the job got done.
She was the Head Children Services librarian at the Central Library in Pleasant Hill, the town where I grew up. Since I went to the libary every week, she knew who I was, and always smiled at me when I walked in the children's area. Right in center her desk would be, near the picture books and the paperbacks. Sometimes she would be reading a book, or ordering books on the comptuter. Most likely she would be talking to a child, seeing what they needed.
She did the toddler storytime, where parents would sign up for her to tell stories so children could be exposed to reading right away. There was always a overflow of parents so sometimes extra storytimes were added if there was money. One time there was a story about Linda and it showed her pretending to wake up after a long nap. Her arms were stretched up and her mouth was open in a big yawn. All the children did what she did.
She dressed up for Halloween-be it a black cat, a cow, or a witch. She was always picky with the selection of books. Not in the "What about the Children" way but in the way of what she knew what was entertainment and was wasn't. One time someone donated a bunch of children's books written by a therapist who had a radio talk show. I showed her the books, asking if she wanted them added to the catalog. She shook her head. "No way. I looked at them and they aren't trying to entertain, they're lecturing."
She was a librarian who knew that the day a Harry Potter book was published it should be declared a holiday. That Ramona Quimby's favorite doll was named Chevrolet. Who would smile and nod when a parent objected to a book, then kept it on the shelf if children were reading the certain book.
The last time I saw her was I saw her in line for Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I was going to talk to her but she was with her daughter Sara and they looked like they were talking about something important, and I didn't want to interupt them.
Linda Duncan died last week. I was honored to work with Linda for ten years. I truly believe that if there was a memorial to her it should simply read:
Linda Duncan 1948-2008.
Beloved Children's Librarian
Now that's a legacy.
Linda Duncan's family has asked that if anyone wants to make a donation in her memory please do so here:
The Linda Duncan Memorial Fund
c/o Central Library
1750 Oak Park Blvd.
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
Causes Jennifer Gibbons Supports
Gilda's Club, Greenpeace, Rosie's Broadway Kids,Westwind Foster Family Agency, Amber Brown Fund, Linda Duncan Fund for Contra Costa Libraries