In Love in Love

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

The young couple met in Love Library at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.

Jozetta Helfrich met the love of her life at Love Library.

It was a July day in 1939. Jozetta was working as a student assistant behind the circulation desk when her supervisor informed her that a young man nearby surely must have a crush on her.

He keeps looking up at you from the book he’s reading, the supervisor told her, and that book is upside-down!

The young man eventually returned the book to Jozetta. Inside, she found a note he’d left asking if she’d like to go with him to a movie.

If the answer is no, please do a headstand on the circulation desk and clap your feet together twice. But if the answer is yes, simply put this book in the cart.

The young man was Adrian Srb, a grad student in agronomy. Their courtship continued through the fall and winter. On Valentine’s Day 1940, Adrian picked her up from the library and asked if she’d be his sweetheart and wear his ring.

“I learned later that was his proposal of marriage,” Jozetta Srb said, years later.

The two married in 1940, finished their degrees and went on to Stanford, and then Cornell University, where Dr. Adrian Srb became a professor and one of the most important molecular biologists in the nation.

Do you also have a story of love at Love Library – or any of the UNL libraries?

If so, consider telling it in a creative way – poem, prose, or a link to your video on YouTube – and you could win a framed Valentine’s Day poem by Ted Kooser, Pulitzer Prize-winning professor of English at UNL and the former U.S. Poet Laureate.

Submit your story or poem or video link here:

The site is called “How I Fell in Love in Love Library.” But the stories can be about any UNL library. Stories can be submitted through midnight Feb 17.

“I run into alums all the time who tell me things like, ‘I used to study with this man at the library and now he’s my husband,”’ says Joan Barnes, outreach librarian with UNL Libraries. “And so this contest is just about trying to engage people and connect them with some wonderful memories, and then maybe eventually UNL libraries will be part of their philanthropic thoughts.”

Even though so many people have great memories of the libraries at UNL, she says, there actually is no built-in donor base, so raising private money for the libraries is challenging.

“If you graduate with an English degree, for example, you’re an alum of the English department, even if you use the library a lot,” she says. “Yet the library is a key thing in supporting all of the majors, all of the students and the faculty.”

Jozetta gave back to Love.

A few years after Adrian died in 1997, Jozetta helped out with a fundraising campaign to furnish a new reading room.

“She had a chair, table and cubical named for him. She’d written on a note that it was in honor of her husband. I called her to thank her, and that’s when she told me their wonderful story about how they met.”

Jozetta also created a memorial scholarship in her husband’s name. It goes to grad students doing research projects at Cedar Point Biological Station.

Jozetta Helfrich Srb died a year ago in Ithaca, N.Y. She was 92.

The people at UNL libraries are using the Srbs’ love story to promote this social media contest.

“It was a very cute story,” Joan Barnes says. “I think this will be a very cute contest. We just want to get the word out and see who else might be out there who has wonderful memories of the library.”

The UNL Library Fund is a Campaign priority for UNL. A gift to this fund provides important resources for the whole UNL libraries system. Please consider giving online or contact the foundation’s Josh Egley at 800-432-3216.

Share this story:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Looking for more stories?