Friday, November 23, 2007


Last week I visited the Gordon School in Providence, Rhode Island. I was there on behalf of the first event supported by the Karla Harry Visiting Author Fund. From the moment I stepped on the campus, I knew Gordon was a special place, and I was deeply touched to be asked to visit in Karla's honor.

After spending the day there, I can tell you one thing for sure. Karla Harry mattered. Her co-workers spoke warmly of her and told me stories of her tireless vision and love for the students there. She was the kind of librarian who left footprints.

In her soft voice, Frances, her co-librarian and friend, shared a lot about her throughout day. "When she came to the school, she wanted to create more choices and build up the middle grade titles."

She co-created the Rooster Games, a day-long event that helps promote the books on the Rhode Island Children's Book Award List. She started book clubs that brought kids and adults together.

Later Frances said, "Karla loved Gordon so much, that when the middle school needed a director, she stepped in and served as Interim Director of the Middle School." That was what she was doing when she learned she was sick.

"She was a positive person," Clare, assistant to the headmaster told me. "She always thought she would be back." After spending a day at Gordon, I believe she never left.

Before my visit ended, I'd learned that Karla loved her family, the Gordon School, and windmills. And so the windmill above is a tribute to a great woman that I never met, but got to know.

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