Librarian ‘born to do this work’

Alicia Thornton’s open face and friendly nature make it a pleasure to visit the Goodwood library.

The newly appointed head librarian’s love of reading started at a tender age.

“As a girl growing up in Grassy Park, I would pull the bed covers over my head so that I could get in extra reading time.”

Her mother, Kathleen Ward, was a “big reader” and acted as a catalyst for the career path she eventually pursued.

“My mother would say, ‘You might as well become a librarian because your nose is always in a book’.”

Ms Thornton holds a degree in library and information studies from UCT.

She started as a children’s librarian at Westridge library in 1991, moved to Strandfontein library in 1994 and Southfield library in 1996. A stint at Tokai library followed before her latest move in May.

As the oldest of five children, she says she has a “strong maternal instinct” and fell into the role of children’s librarian easily.

Even though her voice croaked during her first storytelling session she realised she was “born to do this work”.

Goodwood library is bigger than some of the other libraries she has worked at, but she says she feels at home and is keen to forge relationships with schools and community groups.

Unfortunately, not all visitors to the library are there to check out a book: so far this year, the library has had three burglaries.

Ms Thornton says she was shy growing up but long-distance running at Grassy Park High helped to break her out of her shell.

“I love people, because as you get older, you start to notice aspects of yourself in the various people that you meet.”

She lives in Muizenberg but isn’t bothered by the one-and-a-half hour commute to work because she enjoys listening to music on community radio station CCFM.

She has an adult son and is also a big cat lover: while at Tokai library, the resident cat, Chloe, crept into her heart.

Mostly, she enjoys reading Christian fiction and non-fiction.

“I also enjoy biographies so that I can learn about other cultures and prefer to read the book first then watch the movie.”

At the moment, she is reading the Divergent novels by Veronica Roth.

“I also really like the narrative of Rayda Jacobs’ books.”

The next book she plans to dig her teeth into is Tempting Fate by Jane Green.

To parents who struggle to get their children to read, she says, “I had the same problem with my son, Kyle, but one cannot give up. Try all the avenues you have to get them to read. I’d advise parents to start off with thin books. It’s all about planting the seed. Also, try to determine what their interests are and get books that fit in with that.”