In the Library
March 18, 2009
Yesterday I spent a half hour reading in the children's section of the local library while the nine year old played some games on the computer. The games are infinitely more interesting there than at home; it's one of those rules of the universe for nine year olds, I suppose. Each computer was taken. One of the two librarians on duty kept good track of the waiting list, and checked in on everyone periodically. My son and the boy next to him exchanged recommendations. Junior also recognized a teacher from school and waved.
In one corner, a whole family—three boys and a grandpa—camped out and looked at picture books, while the mom buzzed in and out of the area on various missions. Near my table several tutors coached students through the rigors of homework. Their upbeat approach to their task hummed in the background as I read.
The librarians continually accompanied children back to the fiction stacks to help them look for books. One provided a kid with a "read-alike" list; another filled out an purchase request (from a child) for a book the library didn't own. Someone wanted to know more about Beethoven; relevant books were found and delivered. Squeals from the toddler area hinted at unknown delights, and a boy who looked to be around four selected a student dictionary and carried it away, clutched to his chest like a prize. His mother and three siblings trailed behind him.
A busy place, needless to say.
"Is it always like this?" I asked one of the librarians, as she sought out an audiobook for a patron.
"Every afternoon," she said.
I know there are days when brothers and sisters shriek at each other, someone pukes on the rug, and a three year old bawls because she can't take home the library's doll house. But you know what? They make up, get well, and dry their tears—and eventually return. Literacy is ultimately about connection. Everywhere I looked yesterday, I could see it.
Sounds like an absolutely awesome day there.
Posted by: tanita | March 18, 2009 at 02:55 PM
Thanks for the great visuals, Susan. It sounds like a delightful place. I loved your point about literacy being about connections!
Posted by: Terry Doherty | March 18, 2009 at 02:56 PM
What a great advertisement/encouraging words about your library. You should send a copy of this post to the children's librarians--we are an overworked, underpaid population that nevertheless love our jobs.
Posted by: suzi w. | March 18, 2009 at 04:38 PM
That is a beautiful post, Susan - thanks for sharing it!
Posted by: Kelly Fineman | March 18, 2009 at 04:50 PM
That sounds like a good afternoon, indeed. :)
Posted by: adrienne | March 18, 2009 at 05:48 PM
I spent much of my college years volunteering in the children's section of the library headquarters. It always felt comforting to walk in and see the rows of books and all kinds of people, young and old, enjoying them. Kind of like eating mom's chicken casserole on a cold night with the fire going. Just a warm and happy experience.
Posted by: Rawley | March 18, 2009 at 08:46 PM
Your library truly sounds like a wonderful place for learning.
Posted by: Wisteria | March 19, 2009 at 03:59 PM
Thanks, everybody! I really do enjoy our library. I'd not sat in the back part of the kids' section in a long time, and was amazed at how much activity went on.
Posted by: Susan | March 20, 2009 at 08:41 AM
That's a library doing things right!
Posted by: Jules | March 20, 2009 at 11:20 AM
What a pleasure this post is, Susan -- and it makes me realize how much I tend to rush in, rush out of the library, always on a quick mission. I'm missing out on a lot.
Posted by: Chris Barton | March 20, 2009 at 10:21 PM
Susan, your library sounds almost exactly like mine till they moved to a larger, very sterile (but still wonderful for the books so I must not complain) building.
BTW, it does me great honor to pass on The Wonderful Blog Award :) Details on my blog.
My warmest regards.
Posted by: Suji | March 21, 2009 at 03:49 PM
Just sitting and noticing, then reporting back what you saw. Nice. (And good advice, by the way.) Thanks.
Posted by: Mary Lee | March 22, 2009 at 09:49 AM
Jules, Chris, Suji, and Mary Lee, thanks so much for the nice words.
And, Suji, I am tickled pink to receive such an award!
Posted by: Susan | March 22, 2009 at 09:03 PM
You made this children's librarian smile :)
Posted by: Susan | March 22, 2009 at 11:34 PM
Yay! Like Chris, who commented above, I am usually dashing in and out and not spending a lot of time hanging out. It was fascinating.
Posted by: Susan | March 23, 2009 at 08:16 AM
Thank you from all of us.
Posted by: Deborah | March 23, 2009 at 12:55 PM
Posted by: Susan | March 25, 2009 at 08:20 PM