School is finally back in session, the first indication of a shift from the long sunny days of summer to the cooler, shorter days of fall. The days are still warm, our grass is brilliantly green, and the flowers continue to bloom. At the library all these signs are evident as the lawn continues to need mowing, the tiny vases of flowers continue to brighten our circulation desk, and the computers have quieted somewhat during the day.

It takes so many hands and hearts to make a successful library, and it’s the details that truly make it special for everyone. Our library is blessed with beautiful acts of kindness that are evidenced daily.

For the last 12 years I’ve watched this library shift and change as our collections have changed and evolved with the influence of our users. But I’ve also watched the shift and change of the legions of volunteers and donations of thousands of dollars from businesses and individuals who have helped us in our efforts to make this a great library. We’ve made some very special friends who we rely on from week to week.

Our volunteers not only help us do our jobs better, they bring us gifts of cookies, of chocolate, they carry away recycling and they donate books that we can resell or add to our collections. But one of the sweetest daily rituals are the tiny vases of flower blossoms on our circulation desk that draw the interest and wonder of small children. These vials of beauty are carefully chosen and picked by one of our long-time volunteers, and this week he is having a birthday. His musical gifts, gift of time, of carefully tending to the plants that he has nurtured, are gifts we don’t know how to reciprocate, only appreciate.

This week marks the 70th birthday of Carl Hermanson. His kindness is never lost on us, although he doesn’t see himself this way. Over the 12 years I’ve been in Story City, he has helped process books, re-glued and repaired chairs, tables, and changed light bulbs. He helps with our janitorial, emptying trash cans for us daily. He has replaced lose trim boards and brought us materials so that we could do it when he isn’t around. He brings us tiny flowers from his immense garden, and he sends bouquets to honor his brother, Phil Hermanson, each month.

This man has touched all of us. Most who drive through Story City have no idea who the man is who tends to the flowers in front of the post office. He plants the seeds and conscientiously keeps them watered in the green space by the library. He spent many years volunteering at Bethany Life, watering flowers, helping the residents when they bowled, playing the piano in the memory units and other areas of the facility. His love of nature, of astronomy, of music, of family makes him respectful of all . He loves and respects those things that are naturally beautiful .

Carl is indeed a life-long learner, and he has served on our library foundation since January 2011, contributing to the library in more ways than I can name.

This is a special birthday, and we know he won’t talk much about it. So we hope that the next time you see Carl at the library, tending to the flowers or walking, enjoying the beauty in Story City, that you too will wish him a happy birthday! I can assure you we all do here at the Bertha Bartlett Public Library.