Evelyn Colbert & Jeanne Barnett

In 2012, my first duty here at Collington Life Care Community, as a new member of the Library Committee, was to put prices on about 50 books that the committee wanted to sell at an upcoming bazaar.  There were three of us:  two classy ladies, Evelyn Colbert (in charge), and Jeanne Barnett, and me.  It took us about an hour for a job that I could have done in less than 10 minutes – at the most.  Had we done it my way, I would have missed two unbelievable experiences.

Both Evelyn and Jeanne knew and loved books – real bibliophiles. While I like to read, any success that I had as a librarian, both at the Library of Congress and the National Agricultural Library, was chiefly as an administrator.

All at once, Evelyn turned to me and asked, in what seemed to be an accusatory tone, “what are you reading?”  I answered “a wonderful, even if wordy, history of Burma by Thant Myint-U, the grandson of U Thant who was the 3rd Secretary General of the United Nations.  Whereupon she said “I taught him.”  She had been one of his professors at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC.  His book is River of Lost Footsteps.  It is a must read for anyone interested in Burma (Myanmar).

I said that in it I had just finished reading about a friend of my wife’s and mine – Daw Mya Sein.  Jeanne spoke up and said “she was a friend of mine.”  Jeanne’s husband had also taught at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.    Daw Mya Sein, from Burma, was the mother of one of my Library of Congress employees, Helen Mya Thanda Poe and an exceptional woman.  She had a doctorate in history from Oxford and, among many things, represented Burma at the League of Nations on women’s rights.

Only in Collington can one find such wonderful experiences.