Ohioana lost a very dear friend this week: former librarian Barbara Meister. She loved books as much as any human on the planet.
Barb starting working at Ohioana back when it was downtown on the river. And because Ohioana moved during her tenure, Barb is the one who moved the books. She personally handled each and every volume in the collection and prepared them for their journey.
Those books could not have had a better caretaker because Barb loved books. She loved them for what’s between the covers and for the covers themselves. She had a grand fondness for beautiful leather and gold-leaf volumes from the early 1900s. It was probably because of her love of the Victorians. As she once told me, her grandparents were Victorians. I think Barb loved the surface orderliness of that era.
Barb also loved Russian authors (who wrote about a world that was anything but orderly) and presented the cats in her care with names like Sasha and Vanya.
She loved the work of our friend and Ohio author Michael Dirda, and was so happy when he would come in for a chat or a program.
Barb was a great mentor and caregiver for our interns, teaching them everything she could about the joys of books and the proper care and feeding of same.
The last time that I saw her, she was talking to Courtney Brown, our Library Specialist. These two professionals were comparing notes about books and all things libraries.
“Isn’t it the best?” said Barb, “Isn’t it great?!”
Truly, Barbara Meister was the right person in the right job. She loved books. And she will be missed.