Iowa literacy advocate Dorothy Bryant joins 10-Squared Club
For Dorothy Bryant of Perry, Iowa, reading has been the key to a secret garden of knowledge and beauty for more than ten decades.
Now 101, Bryant spoke on September 26, 2005, at a tea party in Des Moines hosted by the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress, for new members of the 102 Talking-Book Club. One of eleven Iowan centenarians joining the club, Bryant has nurtured a lifelong passion for reading. She likes to give copies of The Secret Garden, a classic novel from her childhood, as gifts to children.
Bryant spoke about the importance of reading in her life and the need for parents to instill a love of reading in their children at an early age. A longtime advocate for literacy, Bryant worked for more than sixteen years as a librarian, eight of which she spent as assistant librarian to Florence Grannis, the founding librarian of the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. When Bryant began to lose her sight twenty years ago, she turned to the library's talking-book program as a way to stay engaged in her passion.
"I love to read, but I didn't' know how I could keep up with my eyes," said Bryant. "But I remembered that the library had books on tape, so I started listening to them. You wouldn't believe how much they have brought to my life." Bryant was particularly pleased to become a member of the 102 Club and said that the induction ceremony was among the "happiest days of my life."
Addressing audience members, Bryant said, "At my age, I've learned I can say whatever I want. You'll have to leave when you don't want to hear any more, because I can just keep on talking about how much this program and reading mean to me."
NLS network consultant Deborah Toomey awarded Bryant with a 102 certificate, a pin, and a letter signed by the NLS director Frank Kurt Cylke. Iowa regional librarian Karen Keninger presented Bryant with a copy of A Treasury of Talking Books and a book from the collection that she had been waiting to read.
In addition to being honored and presented with gifts, all of Iowa's 102 Club members will receive priority consideration on all books that they request. "If it's not on the shelf," said Keninger, "We'll duplicate it for you." Iowa library staff will be traveling throughout the state in the next several months to bestow 102 certificates, pins, letters, and copies of A Treasury of Talking Books upon the remaining ten inductees.