a program of The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation

Contra-dancing and stealing Shakespeare at the Library

Abbey Brill joined the Foundation in January 2016. In her role as Stewardship Assistant, she serves as the primary point of contact for Library staff concerning donor recognition and financial tracking for the Library programs which receive financial support from the Foundation. She also assists with the preparations for the Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award Dinner and coordinates the evening's silent auction.She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Media, Culture, and the Arts from The King’s College in New York City. Below, she reflects on how her childhood at the library has helped her grow into the person she is today.

When I was a child I had a special cloth bag that I used for library books. My family and I visited the library frequently, and the librarians would joke with me that my bag was magic, because no matter how many books I checked out (and I checked out a lot), they always somehow all fit into my bag.

As I was a shy and quiet homeschooled girl, the library was more than a source of books—it was also one of my major outlets for socialization. I went to book clubs with other kids and teens, and as I got older I helped select the books that we read (“The Shakespeare Stealer” was a pick of mine) and came up with activities to complement the discussion. Since the protagonist of “The Shakespeare Stealer” was very superstitious, I had everyone engage in a bit of folklore. We twisted the stems of apples around while reciting the alphabet, and whatever letter the stem came off on was the first letter of the name of the person we would marry. Most people ended up with “A”s and “B”s, as the apple stems we twisted did not end up being particularly resilient.

My siblings and I all learned contra dancing through a library program, and were drafted to be in a video competition for a prize from Garelick Farms. A librarian rewrote the song “K-K-K-Katy" to go “G-G-G-Garelick, wonderful Garelick, you’re the only m-m-m-milk that we adore…” and had us all sing along and demonstrate our dancing skills

I also got my first job at the library, and am proud to recall that I was unofficially considered the “Green Beret” of the library pages. When I went off to college in New York, my librarian coworkers chipped in to buy me a T-shirt that read “I only like New York as a Friend” to remind me of them.

When I was eleven, one librarian, Cindy, gave me the opportunity to write a book review of “A Wrinkle in Time” for a local paper, and helped me edit the report to express my thoughts more clearly. My parents recently sent me an old copy of the book report that they found as they were clearing my old stuff out of the house. You can see a photo of this memento below:


At the library I could talk about books with other people who valued stories as much as I did. It was a special place, full of wonderful librarians who cared for me and helped me grow as a reader and as a person. I know that my childhood would have been a much poorer one if I hadn’t had access to a library.