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Why Libraries Should Outlive Us All

, , , , , , | Right | May 10, 2022

I have been a librarian for over thirty years. We are a relatively big library in our town, and one of the more conveniently located libraries — right across from a middle school, by a major store, and near a dog park. But when the health crisis hit, we went from being in person to being only pick up in the car. Our state considered us essential. People for the most part were understanding about it, though we did have some interesting people. The absolute best patron, though, was one who remembered our names.

She would drive up, and when we came out, she would always have a smile and try and make conversation. This girl would constantly check out ten to twenty books every week and return them promptly every Monday. The odd thing was that the books were all over the place; some days it would be mysteries and sometimes it would be classics or nonfiction.

When we finally opened back up, she was there that Monday afternoon with a big plate of cookies and donuts from the local bakery with a card letting us know how much she appreciated us, especially since she knew that we had a lot of work to get out all her books. I finally asked her if she was reading all those books, because honestly, we were always curious.

Customer: *Laughing* “I read some of them, but I didn’t want the library to go under during this, so I figured if I could get as many books as I could checked out, they would see that this was a necessary thing.”

I admit my eyes were a little teary. And now, nearly six months after we have fully opened, she still checks out that many every week.

That’s One Heavy Burden

, , , , , | Working | May 3, 2022

Manager: “I don’t need this albatross around my neck like the Sword of Damocles!”

Me: “That’s the most pretentious mixed metaphor I’ve ever heard.”

So Can Anyone Who Passed High School History Class

, , , , | Friendly | May 2, 2022

It’s late summer. I am sitting in the lobby of a hotel a few miles from the Gettysburg battlefield, waiting for a shot at a massively under-staffed and over-utilized breakfast buffet and reading my Nook.

Random Helpful Stranger: “Whatcha reading?”

Me:Mr. Lincoln’s Army.”  

There’s a pause.

Random Helpful Stranger: “I can tell you how it ends.”

He One Mojo Filter… Whatever That Means

, , , | Right | April 14, 2022

I work in a bookstore.

Customer: “I’m looking for books about the Beatles.”

I take him over and point out what we have. It turns out he just wants to spout off conspiracy theories about Paul McCartney being dead, etc. He just keeps talking and talking.

My manager sees what is happening and pages me to another part of the store.

Me: “Sorry, gotta go!”

With Great Power Comes Great Literacy

, , , , , , | Related | April 11, 2022

This story was told to me by my mother. I’m an itty-bitty first-grader at the local public library with her. Even though I’ve only recently started reading with any kind of ease and my library card is brand new, I LOVE books. My only previous library experience is with my school library, which has a checkout limit of two books per child.

Me: “How many can I check out?”

Mom: “Why don’t you ask the librarian over there?”

Satisfied with being given a route to an answer, I go chase after the librarian, who has just decided to move to a nearby section. My mom stays put, wanting to give me a little independence and knowing I won’t go far.

When I return, the librarian trails behind me to make sure I get back to my mother. She, however, is focused on me — more specifically, my vaguely diabolical ear-to-ear grin.

Mom: “What did the librarian say?”

Me: *Still beaming* “She said I could check out AS MANY AS I COULD HANDLE.”

Thus began many years of checking out twenty books at a time — enough that carrying them was a test of my strength and my book bag wept for mercy — and finishing them all in a week. My mom still laughs at the thought of that giant grin on my face as I realized the power of a library card.