I love to joke that one day the sea invented a job for me. On the fluid line between imagination and reality, I became a sea librarian. Just like in childhood when you daydream about fantastic professions. I imagined becoming a keeper of stories about the sea. As wondrous and impossible as it could seem, already in the first year, real visitors started coming to the library – a room in our old wooden house – some even traveled from distant lands just to be here while others stopped by from the neighborhood. Drank coffee, told stories, took books, read, and sent them back.
In recent years, the story of the Sea Library has started to shape into my own book, and listening ears in London have even brought an agent for it. An agent, who wants to cherish my book with great dedication and find a publisher. I close my eyes and am grateful and patient. Good things evolve in time. Time is love.
All these years, since 2014 when my second son was born and I decided to leave a promising career and a city life behind, I have dwelled here on a dune peninsula between a river and sea without a day job. With immense support and trust from my parents and husband, I have been able to imagine and build a better world for all of us. A world filled with love, care, trust, a little bit of rust, and lots of imagination.
The Sea Library has stepped into its fifth year this summer and it needs more and I want to give it more – I send books to distant places for free, I buy new books whenever I can, and spend time with visitors. With all my savings gone, I had to find a job. I shivered at the idea of losing a world I had built here, it felt like going back in time, to a place that I once left all those years ago.
My mum sent a photo of a double rainbow above the sea of tin roofs, taken from her flat in Riga. She said it will be alright. Mums are always right. It was the end of May, and a few days later I did find a job. Or maybe it found me.
Let me say it again. I have never been a ‘real’ librarian. Except in childhood when I lent books to my teddies and dolls and wrote them down in my notebook. I have never studied librarianship or anything like that, and the Sea Library is far from an ordinary library. It’s a wild beast. And yet, the National Library of Latvia had a place for me. They offered me a wonderful job. It has been more than a month now. I am a keeper of stories about libraries and librarians. I am an editor of an online media for all libraries in Latvia which is called as simple and beautiful as biblioteka.lv.
After an eight-year break, I am working again as a paid employee in one of the most beautiful libraries on the banks of another river – Daugava. It seems so right and so full of joy. A wondrous opportunity for me the learn the fabric of the field, to peek into behind-the-scenes of library networks etc. The stories I write about, the interviews I conduct inspire me. And what’s even better – I can work partly from the Sea Library, here in Jūrmala.
When the three-month probationary period will pass, I will drink champagne with the sea. About children, friends, and confidence. About the clouds, the sky, and the house of books on the bank of another river. My eldest son Kristians recently ran his finger over the map and said, “In theory, you could swim to work.”
Congratulations and good luck! Will the Sea Library continue on in a more limited form or will you pass it on to a successor?
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Oh, nothing like that! I found a job just to be able to support and grow the Sea Library. (I had ran out of money and the readership has grown over these years.) Nothing has changed, except a few days a week I’m away at the National Library. More scheduling of the visitors, nothing else 🙂 I love the Sea Library. It will be able to grow now.
& thank you, Tom, for your good wishes! and also for the books you have donated to the collection.
I am so happy for you. I work in Sedona Public Library (sedonalibrary.org), and I have followed you and shared you with my staff for years. Your story today brings tears of joy to my morning. In this crazy world, and in my own wanderings about what is next best for me in this life, your story of success brings me hope and calm. Thank you.
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Anne, thank you for writing! Means a lot to me. I had a feeling that librarians and everyone in libraries are wonderful people, and now I have found out it really is so. and what a lovely library, and in Arizona. as the Grand Canyon is one of a few things on my list that I would love to see, I would love to visit the Sedona Public Library as well one day (a couple of hours drive from Canyon!). Thank you.
How wonderful – they are extremely fortunate to have you! Congratulations and here’s to new adventures and the Sea Library continuing on!
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Thank you so, so much!