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Know Your Neighbor: Diane Bartlett
Know Your Neighbor
Diane Bartlett is the Turlock Librarian. - photo by Photo Contributed

Turlock Librarian Diane Bartlett grew up in the Bay Area, the youngest of five children.  She was not unfamiliar with this area, however, because as a child she made many trips to Turlock to visit her mother’s relatives and to attend swap meets with her dad.  She graduated from CSU Hayward (now East Bay) with a BA in Liberal Studies and after working a variety of jobs, went on to graduate from San Jose State with a Masters in Library and Information Science in 1986. She worked in both public and academic libraries as student assistant, page, cataloging clerk, and finally librarian.  Bartlett moved to Modesto in 1995, and worked in the Children’s department of the Modesto Library. She’s worked at the Oakdale and Salida libraries and has been at the Turlock library since 2002.  Bartlett has been married for 35 years and has two adult daughters. 


Q.     Q. How did you first get interested in library science?

A.      A. From about sixth grade, I knew I wanted to be a librarian, not so much because I love books (I do love a good story), but because I love research and hunting down the answers to questions people ask.  I knew I wanted to work in a public library because of the variety of tasks performed.  What surprised me is that in my final semester of the master’s program at SJSU, I took a children’s programming class and I discovered the art of storytelling. I’ve never enjoyed public speaking, but love presenting stories and programs for children.


Q.     Q. How have libraries changed from the beginning of your career to now?

A.      A. An obvious change has been the technological advances made since I became a librarian in 1986.  I feel lucky enough that as I grew in my career, technology also grew, so I was able to learn new skills and ways to perform my job. People often ask about technology taking away librarian jobs, but I see technology as just a way to do our jobs better or in a different way.  We still love a good story. We still seek answers to our questions.  We still use the library as a community meeting place and we still respond to the needs of everyone in our community.  Technology is just another tool to help us do this.


Q.    Q.  What is one thing many people do not know about the Turlock Library? 

A.      A. The building was built in 1968, so will be 50 years old in 2018.  We are busy planning events to mark the occasion.


Q.     Q. What is your favorite thing to do for fun in Turlock? (When you're not at the library!)

A.      A. I love my visits to the Carnegie Arts Center. I have attended plays, concerts, art exhibitions, and movie presentations, just to name a few.  I have heard the Uke group practice and watched the folk dancers learn new steps. There’s something for all ages at the Carnegie. It truly is one of Turlock’s gems.


Q.     Q. What was the last book, television show or movie that captivated you?

A.      A. The last book that intrigued me is “The Bad Seed” by Jory John (not to be confused with the 1956 horror movie with the same title).  This recently released children’s picture book is narrated by a ‘baaaaaaaaad’ sunflower seed.  This seed’s bad behavior (not listening, being late, cutting in line, telling lies, not putting things back in their place) is not without understanding, but it’s also not working for him. Can he change?  We often are asked for stories with a moral or lesson, and this humorous story is a great jumping off place for a family discussion of behavior and why people do the things they do. Or maybe I like it because I can’t stop myself from repeating the seed’s opening line: "I'm a bad seed. / A baaaaaaaaaaad seed.”


Q.     Q. What's one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?

A.      A. When they hear I am a Vonnegut, they always ask ‘are you REALLY related to Kurt?’ Yes, and to his son Mark, and Norb (my first cousin), and to Laureen (daughter of another first cousin), and to Andrew (her brother), all published authors.