Verdugo Views: Librarian remembers her tour of duty well

School librarians often have stories to tell, and Barbara Canady, who signed on as librarian at Glendale High in 1958, is no exception.

Canady's office was in the tower, just below the clock, of the high school built in 1924 at the corner of Broadway and Verdugo Road. Her office was the setting for a story involving a tradition that the outgoing senior class president would be dunked into the fish pond in the Senior Glen.

One year, that outgoing president hid in the tower above her office, trying to escape his pursuers, who came up the back stairs. They thought they could get into the tower, but the stairway had been blocked by shelves that were nearly ceiling high. So, Canady said, they just climbed over the shelves and into her office.

"There I was with all these big boys coming over the wall, at least half a dozen," she said. "Once they realized there was no access to the tower, they ran out of the library door, looking for some other way in."

Another story was set in the library itself.

"Some kids broke in and piled up a couple of thousand books on the floor," she said. "They must have been surprised in some way because they ran away."

Canady arrived the next morning to find the mess.

"Those kids ended up meeting with the principal a couple of days later," she said.

Then, friends of theirs continued the prank by emptying some of the drawers from the library's card catalog. When Canady came to work, she found several of her brightest students sitting around the tables studying. They asked her a question that led her to look up the answer in the card catalog and that's when she discovered the missing cards.

"I'm sure they were there that morning to see my face when I opened the drawers. There were funny looks on their faces." About 20 drawers were empty, she added.

"These were bright kids," she said. "They often studied in the library before school. I never knew which of them were the perpetrators."

Later, the cards were found in a bag above the janitor's closet.

"This was 1963 or so," she said in a recent interview. "Many people living in Glendale will remember these incidents. They were from respectable families and, yes, they were all penalized."

Canady was only the second librarian to serve at the Broadway campus. Her father, a skilled craftsman, built several furnishings for the room, including a book return, lectern and a book repair truck.

On March 22, 1964, an arson fire raced through the administration building and brought to a close Canady's years in the library with its beamed ceiling and oak tables and chairs.

Although the fire never reached the library, she lost a couple thousand books.

"They were literally baked from the heat and just fell apart," she said. "The whole room was dripping with black gunk."

According to George Ellison of Special Collections, a bond issue to bring the campus up to the Field Act had passed a month before the fire, so the building was never repaired.

"It was cleaned up and made usable for staff and students," he said.

Construction on the present campus began in late summer, 1966 and Canady worked in the old library until the end of the 1967-1968 school year.

"Before they tore down the old library, I packed up what I needed," she said. "The books were moved that summer."

Canady retired in June 1993, and, despite the student pranks and the catastrophic fire that destroyed the beautiful library, she reflected that her career had been a joy.

"I always looked forward to the day ahead," she said.

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Katherine Yamada's column runs every other Friday. To contact her, call features editor Joyce Rudolph at (818) 637-3241. For more information on Glendale's history, visit the Glendale Historical Society's web page: http://www.glendalehistorical.org; call the reference desk at the Central Library at (818) 548-2027; or visit the Special Collections Room at Central from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays or make an appointment by calling (818) 548-2037.

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To the Readers:

The Glendale Historical Society recently received a query from someone who purchased a small Toby mug marked "Made in England for the Scottish Village in Glendale, Calif." The writer wanted information on the village.

Society webmaster Arlene Vidor forwarded the request to a group of "Glendale History Experts" and writer Chris Nichols responded with a postcard of the Scotch Village at 818 N. Central Ave. (at Arden Avenue). If anyone has further information about the Scotch Village, please contact me at the information below.

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If you have questions, comments or memories to share, please write to Verdugo Views, c/o News-Press, 221 N. Brand Blvd., 2nd Floor, Glendale, CA 91203. Please include your name, address and phone number.

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