Susan Middleton is a native San Diegan. Her favorite places as a child were the beach and the local library. When asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” the answer was always, “A librarian!” Even her high school yearbook picture lists “librarian” as her future career.
After graduating from the University of Colorado-Boulder where she studied Japanese language and literature, and East Asian studies, she went to Korea with the Peace Corps. Middleton’s graduate degree in Library Science is from Indiana University.
She has lived and worked in Korea, Japan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Tanzania, and continues to travel when possible. She is a librarian at La Jolla Country Day School, and has been a member of the Friends of the La Jolla Branch Library for more than nine years.
What brought you to La Jolla?
After working in business libraries, public libraries and university libraries in cities both here and abroad, I returned to San Diego County to live near my parents and raise my two children, Amberley and Sean.
It was my great and good fortune to apply for a job as a librarian at La Jolla Country Day School 28 years ago and be interviewed (and hired) by the head librarian at the school, Catherine Greene!
Catherine is now the branch librarian at our Riford Library, and it is both an honor and a pleasure to be supporting her and her fine staff as President of the Friends group.
What might you add, subtract or improve in the area?
The La Jolla Library is a treasure for all in our community, and I hope to see funding for it that is secure, unequivocal and continuing.
What inspires you?
I am inspired daily by the generosity of volunteers — whether they are giving their time and effort or donating money. That people of all ages want to reach beyond themselves to help others, and sacrifice to do so, shows great humanity.
If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom
(living or deceased) would you invite?
Since I believe fervently in the transforming power of story, I would relish an evening with writers and tellers of fairy tales. First in the door is Aesop, whose moralizing will give us a firm foundation.
He is followed by Charles Perrault. Hans Christian Andersen, and Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm might come together as they have already met. Oscar Wilde, who I hear can enliven a gathering, wanders in. Then come Neil Gaiman and Gregory Maguire. That makes eight. Gregory starts the conversation with this quote from Roger Scruton: “The consolation of the imaginary is not imaginary consolation,” and the conversation never lags.
What are you reading?
I am listening to my book group’s next book, T.C. Boyle’s “When the Killing’s Done” in the car, and reading “The Last Shot” by Lynn Schooler. Did you know that the last shot of the Civil War was fired in Alaska?
What is your most-prized possession?
If I take this literally, it is the ring on my finger that my mother gave me on the Mother’s Day before she died. It had been passed on to her by her stepfather, and she wore it every day of her life. It ties me to my ancestors and to memories of my mother. The most prized and important part of my life is my children, of course.
What do you do for fun?
Sit on the beach, dive through the waves, and sail on the sea. I do love the ocean. I like to hike, go to Padres games and, of course, read. And read some more.
What is your most-marked characteristic?
I’d like to think I have a generous spirit that translates into patience and kindness, and genuine caring.
What would be your dream vacation?
A vacation to me is a relaxing break from routines, so that would be downhill skiing in the Rockies or hanging out at the beach. But travel — now that is another story. I favor literary pilgrimages. I went to Bhutan this spring, and that was a dream come true. Sikkim, Patagonia, Tasmania, Iceland and Ethiopia are all part of the dream.
What is your philosophy of life?
Do no harm. Travel light. Keep a book on the nightstand.