Below is the last Curator's Corner article that Angelica wrote in The Magic Mirror (Spring 2012). To view the complete newsletter, visit our website.
Greetings from a recent retiree with a new title, Curator Emerita. It was a difficult decision to retire at the end of 2011, as I absolutely loved my job, which I consider to be the best in the world. However it could be tiring (largely because I make it that way) and I was ready for a rest and a change.
So now when I am at the Library, I’m there as a patron instead of a librarian. I’m writing a new biography for young adults, about Matilda Joslyn Gage, who was L. Frank Baum’s mother-in-law. That’s how she came onto my radar, through my interest in Baum and Oz, but she was a famous feminist and author in her own right. After she was widowed she spent winters with the Baums—her daughter Maud, Maud’s husband Frank, and their four sons. She encouraged Frank to write down the stories he told his sons, and to submit the to a publisher. I don’t think that it is a coincidence that Baum’s Oz is a feminist utopia, ruled by women.
The Henry Madden Library is a terrific resource for authors. Before moving here, I wrote three books in a Florida city with minimal library resources. In Fresno I wrote two more, a much easier task with access to an outstanding academic library. My habit of writing about Victorians means that I need to read many books published in the Victorian era. It always surprises me how many of these are in the Madden collection. And if they are not, I can get them through Interlibrary Loan. A million books, dazzling databases, and specialist librarians who have helped me to track down all kinds of elusive information (like what year did bustles go out of style?)—research is fun here and wonderfully productive. While writing this book, I will stay involved with the Arne Nixon Center, as a volunteer and a Life Member of ANCA.
I have also signed up to FERP, as part of the Faculty Early Retirement Program, starting next fall. This program allows retired faculty members to work part-time. My plan is to catalog, or help with exhibitions, or process the papers of authors or illustrators, or to do anything else that is needed. But not full-time and not early in the morning!
It’s a wonderful job when you get to do anything you can dream of. If anyone had told me, when I was eight years old, that someday I would get to put on a national Oz conference, my daughter says that I would have started planning it right then.
My plans were not accomplished alone—they involved the help and support of many other people, in and out of the Library. I thank all of you for taking my wild ideas seriously.
The Library plans a national search to fill my job. In the meantime, the Arne Nixon Center will be led by Jennifer Crow, who is already working on some interesting new projects. My email will still be the same — firstname.lastname@example.org — and I look forward to hearing from friends and colleagues as I continue to work in children’s literature, in a slightly new capacity.
Happy reading!A few celebratory pictures from Angelica's retirement party in December 2011: