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Monday, July 20, 2009

The True Adventures of a Children’s Librarian

It’s unusual for the word “librarian” to trigger a glamorous image. More often, your mind jumps to that scene in It’s a Wonderful Life, where Clarence shrieks, “She’s just about to lock up the library!” cueing Mary as a dowdy old maid with glasses and a tiny bun.

But the truth is, life in the stacks has its share of adventure...

A boy, about twelve, came in with a list of Newbery medal winners. I helped him locate several, recommending some over others. "Oh, these aren't for me," he said. "I'm getting them for my grandma." "Okay," I replied. "But still, this one's better than that one." "Eh," he shrugged, taking the book from my hands. "She's just an old lady. She won't care."

A patron renewed her books over the phone. Without looking closely, I clicked “select all” and “renew.” The receipt printer ran ... and ran ... and ran ... 89 items. Beat that.

Two guys sat at the computer bay, and their low voices carried to my desk. "Longest I've been in jail is ... 25 days." "17 for me." "What've you got now?" "Assault and battery." I shifted uneasily in my chair.

An eleven-year-old girl brought up a dog-eared copy of Twilight, and as she waited, she asked, "So, has anyone ever checked out this book?"

Before leaving for work, I left myself a memo on the kitchen counter: pick up hatchet at library. My dad fingered the paper, one eyebrow raised. I had to explain the Gary Paulsen part.

A man came in with a list from his daughter. "Can you see if you have any of these?" I looked at the titles, six books long, and did a mental checklist. Then I looked up. "Yes. We have them." He blinked. "Just like that?" I smiled. “I’ll see if they’re on shelf.”

One sleepy Saturday, a high school Runescape addict sat at a computer for hours without coming up for breath. At closing time, I left the room to lock up, and when I came back, there was a paper on my desk. Call me. With his name and number.

A little girl, fifth grade at the very most, asked if we had an available copy of Twilight. I shook my head. She scrunched her mouth, thought a minute, and then asked, "Okay, well, do you have Clementine?" (Such things ought not be.)

A woman came in for a book for her daughter. “I can’t remember the name, but there’s something about red, or crimson, and a valley.” I nodded slowly. “Ruby Holler?” Her eyes dilated, and she grinned, amazed. “Yes!”

Smile at your librarians today. They’re heroes.


  1. Cute piece, Noel. So, I have to ask... did you call the guy? Ha. Books all day long. Being a superhero has its perks. So glad you love books my friend.

  2. So glad you shook your head (no) at the little girl who asked for TWILIGHT when she should have been reading CLEMENTINE. Thank you.

    We need more librarians like you!

  3. Um, no. I did not call the runescape addict, Gina. I'm more of a rl kind of girl.

    I'm glad I was able to shake my head, D. Ann! Hurray for long hold lists!

  4. Next week is the Second Annual Library day in the Life extraveganaza, please consider adding your information to the wiki


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