What a Difference: Oprah, public libraries and a wood stove

Photo Credit: Oprah.com

Photo Credit: Oprah.com

Yesterday was a frigid day by Northern California standards; 52 degrees, cloudy, brisk wind…a balmy day for those who live in the Midwest but COLD for those of us who are proud to be labeled Northern California weather wimps. It was a perfect day to sit in front of the fire in my family room with my laptop in my lap and work, although an unusual apathy and lack of motivation seemed to dominate my thoughts. What I really desired was to crawl back under the covers of my very comfy bed on a chilly Northern California day.

Our family room where our woodstove resides also hosts our family TV set. By 4 p.m., I succumbed to my lack of motivation and turned on the TV to watch the day’s Oprah show. The theme for her show was “Don’t Stop Believing” and showcased stories of people rising above the odds and thriving.

One story was about Khadijah, a young woman from Los Angeles who lived in homeless shelters and on the street most of her life. At an early age (she said in the second grade), she recognized that the only way she was going to rise above her environment was through education. Her mother supported this path and Khadijah worked hard and excelled at school even though she was attending a new school almost every year. But there was though one place she had as a constant throughout this time of constant change, the Los Angeles Public Library. Khadijah spent “day after day at the public library”. In her interview Khadijah said “It changed my life. The library gave me some control over some aspect of my life. Even though I couldn’t really control where I would live or anything, I could control how much I wanted to learn.” Khadijah went on to earning a full-ride scholarship to Harvard University and her story, her humility, her determination is an inspiration to all who listen to it.

In these uncertain times for public libraries, it is stories like this that put a personal face on the impact libraries have on our society. For me, Khadijah lifted my apathy of yesterday and reminded me of the influence Tutor.com has on those students who use our service through their public library. No hiding under the covers today for me – more libraries to call and introduce to our service so that more kids can get individualized academic help through their safe haven, their public library.

If you need some motivation today, check out Khadijah’s story at Oprah.com.

Sandi White is VP of Sales and Marketing at Tutor.com. She lives in Northern California

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