, Salem, MA


December 17, 2012

Library patron needs help, is 'stunned' by response

To the editor:

It sure is nice to have a good customer experience every so often, but this was a great one.

A recent article in The Salem News reported the upcoming repairs of Canal Street in Salem. And this article mentioned that part of the original road had been built over something called the Dutch Gap Canal. Now that piqued our interest, so my wife, Leah, and I decided to check this out further.

Internet searches turned up nothing. So we decided to visit the Salem Library in the hopes of finding some answers there. The reference librarian, Susan Szpak, spent considerable time assisting us, but we made little headway. Susan told us that if we left our name and number, she knew of another who could help, and the library would call us with any information found. We left, and honestly, I didn’t hold out too much hope on this. I figured they probably wouldn’t have the time to help us much more than they had.

About a week later, we returned home to a phone message; the library had called and they had some information for us. My wife stopped by to pick it up, and when she returned home I was stunned. We had a thick packet of papers, which included, but was not limited to, several hand-written and very explanatory pages by Jeanne Stella (library patron with a great wealth of knowledge of Salem), copies of Salem News articles regarding the canal / road from 1890 to 1956, a blueprint of the newly proposed canal / road, and copies of documents from the Registry of Deeds. We had indeed received a lot of great information!

It was a strong reminder that a library is far, far more than just a place to borrow a book or movie. It was a reminder that libraries matter. A reminder that libraries are important and they need to be supported. A library is an endless resource of information, and should be used. (Not to mention that a library, for many people, is their only access to the Internet. This, by the way, being about the only way you can apply for a job nowadays.)

Our thanks to both Reference Librarian Susan Szpak and Head Reference Librarian Jane Walsh. And thank you to the Registry of Deeds’ staff members Kathy Wilson and Kasta Psiakis. And very special thanks to library patron Jeanne Stella, who really went out of her way to help us out. We look forward to reading more of your letters to the editor regarding Salem history!

Tom Martin


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