Did you know that February is Love Your Library Month? I’d be remiss if I didn’t post at least one library-related piece, and I’d miss out on an opportunity to gush (again) about how much I love my own Curtis Memorial Library.
You may remember a previous piece I published about CML last month, in which I wrote of how I came to discover the library and how it came to be a second home for me. Eventually, it even became my place of employment. I wanted to revisit the subject of this beloved place, now that I have come to know it even better. (In case you missed that one, here is the link: http://twicesoldtales.bangordailynews.com/2016/01/17/home/a-world-of-possibility-at-the-curtis-memorial-library/)
Observing my coworkers and patrons and the goings-on at the library over the past few weeks, I’ve compiled a list of even more reasons why I love this place so much. Curtis Memorial Library, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
Customer service: I recently observed one of our newest reference librarians taking the arm of one of our most frequent patrons and leading her gently across the slushy sidewalk outside. She didn’t let go until they’d reached dry, safe ground. The librarian wasn’t wearing a jacket– clearly she had just decided on the spur of the moment to help out this person. The two of them were chatting amiably, both of them smiling. At CML, customer service isn’t only about helping you find a book or keeping you up to date with community events. It’s also about taking a little time to simply do the right thing.
Positive feedback: A patron came in the other day. I helped him out, and since it was a slow night, I was able to chat with him for a bit before he went on his way. He mentioned liking the Collaboratory and asked what our next display would be. When I told him we planned on bringing spring indoors a little early, with lots of flowers and plants, he was thrilled. “I can’t believe how much you guys do here,” he said. “It’s so wonderful. You’re really taking the concept of a library and making it timeless. You guys do amazing work.” It’s when I hear feedback like that from patrons that I am more convinced than ever that libraries are still necessary, relevant, and appreciated.
Librarian shenanigans: In case you missed it, yours truly was recently one of the stars of a short film. I didn’t actively seek out my celebrity status; rather, fame found me one afternoon when I was working at the Circulation Desk. One of the reference librarians approached me with a request to do some acting for an instructional video on Coins for Curtis, a promotion we have been doing for the month of February to collect donations for the library. Resistance was futile. I acquiesced, accepting it was part of my own librarian initiation. The first take was brilliant, if I do say so myself. No flawed lines, a bright smile, even some improvisation. But he forgot to hit record. So it goes. I stumbled a bit on the second (and final) take, but ah, well. We can’t all be perfect. Not even librarians. Laughing with him and the other woman I was working with, I felt glad to be part of such a fun team. They even encouraged me to seek a career in acting if this library thing doesn’t work out. Somehow, I don’t think that will happen. But hey, good to know a gal has options. https://www.facebook.com/curtislibrary/videos/10154297311741165/
Another of the librarians who works in Tech Services and also at the reference desk showed me some paper money she had from the Dominican Republic. “It’s not worth anything,” she said, “but wouldn’t it be fun to slip it into a travel guide so someone can find it?” And that is exactly what she did. Someday one lucky patron will take out the book and open up to a page holding purple and yellow paper currency. Being included in these high-jinx, I couldn’t help but wonder: what other literary mischief do these librarians get up to?
Bags full o’ books: Specifically, tote bags filled to the brim with children’s books. At times it can get a bit harried at the Circulation Desk, when there are several patrons waiting to check out and I get a family of two or three kids and their parents unloading dozens of picture books, chapter books, comics, and YA fiction and graphic novels. Sometimes my scanner can barely keep up with them all. But isn’t that wonderful? To know that kids are still invested in reading actual, physical books, to be assured that screens and tablets have not replaced the wonder of the written word and the hardcover book – that is something worth celebrating. And seeing how many children come into the library every single day, I have hope and faith that we are raising a new generation of readers, and that maybe – just maybe – at least a few of those readers will grow up to become writers and librarians themselves.
I’ve worked in a few different places. A couple I genuinely liked. There was one in particular I absolutely hated. Most others, I’ve merely tolerated with a grin-and-bear-it attitude just to get a paycheck. It wasn’t until I began working at the Curtis Memorial Library that I started not only enjoying my work but finding purpose in it as well. Any of the lists I may have made in previous jobs would have been more along the “how do I loathe thee” lines. But not CML. This is a happy place. For me, for my coworkers, and for our patrons. And that is just what a library should be: happy, accessible, and well-loved.
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And, for a sample of my fiction writing, follow the link to read my original short story, “Lost and Found,” recently published by the Hawaii Pacific Review: https://hawaiipacificreview.org/2015/12/10/lost-and-found/