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.