Monday, May 20, 2013

A Reluctant Librarian

Adult librarians are like lazy bakers: their patrons want a jelly doughnut, so they give them a jelly doughnut. Children’s librarians are ambitious bakers: "You like the jelly doughnut? I’ll get you a jelly doughnut. But you should try my cruller, too. My cruller is gonna blow your mind, kid." ~John Green

When I was about my daughter's age, my family lived with my maternal grandfather and I could walk to the library. It was an impressive brick building with several steps to the entrance and the dark inside had high ceilings and real wood shelves packed with books encased by walls of whitewash meeting with fancy wood panels half way down wherever there were not any shelves. To go to the children's library, I would turn to the right and go down steps to the basement into a yellow room brighten with colorful decorations on the walls and a smiling librarian. The children's library had its own librarian, who was helpful and warm and approachable, unlike the ones peering over their reading glasses behind the tall wooden counters upstairs. This was the only library I have been to in my life that was set up this way. All the others were newer buildings with a children's area but a central desk.

On Thursday, I dropped the ever maturing Princess off at the entrance of the local library to check in the first six books of Faithgirlz series that has her current interest, so she had ordered them in. I was expecting to see her emerge with the remaining six of the series available because she had ordered them also, but she was empty handed. She told me that she did not see them in the new self-serve hold area. I had her go back in to inquire when they would be in. She came back out to say that the lady at the desk told her she had no books on hold on her card. I could see the discouragement in her face. Even though she protested, probably fearing humiliation, and just wanted to let it go, this time I insisted she go back again and I went in with her. She went to the desk told the lady that she had ordered the other six books and the woman said that the records showed they were not on hold and then she sat back in her seat.

I have to say that I know most of the morning librarians as we used to go to the library for story time for nearly three years and stopped after the Princess began piano lessons. They are so helpful and sweet, quite the opposite of what I was witnessing right then. Here is a twelve year old girl who is obviously wanting the books that should have been on hold and this lady is not offering to do anything. I regret that I got a bit short with the woman when she said that the books were not on hold and I said, "Then that is what we need to do." Then she sat up reluctantly and asked my daughter for the author and names of the books. I stepped back to allow my daughter work it out on her own.

The Princess gave the author's name but did not know the names of all the remaining books in the series and they are not listed by the series in the library records either so the reluctant librarian begins naming the books off the computer screen and expecting my daughter to remember the ones she had read and just handed in...and my daughter was doing a pretty good job. However, I am a logical woman who looks for the most efficient method to complete a task and it just seemed to be the best course to get back the books she had just handed in as they were in a special place to be sent back to their home libraries since they were not from this one. So I again stepped in briefly to mention it, as now a few people are waiting behind us. She said something about them being in the area where they need to be shipped out to the other libraries as if that was some insurmountable task and I fought this mounting urge to say or do anything more, stepping back again.

About three minutes later, the books were ordered and we were leaving. Since I was reading about borrowing e-books and no longer watching, the Princess had to tell me that she got the books she had returned just minutes before and checked them against the list on the screen. She might have been more motivated because another more on-the-ball librarian came up to help with the line and had heard the tail end of what was said.

The good news is while there I learned that I can borrow one e-book at a time from the library system. So I worked on setting everything up with my Kindle at home, but I need to go back to the library with my card and identification to get my pin number to make it work, which was not stated in the info I got at the library.

Usually, I order my books for hold online as well but there is an advantage of having the librarians do it as they pick from the closest and most efficient libraries and I have ordered books that never came in, so I will have the desk person order for me when I am there. Seeing one sit back and not offer to help a twelve-year-old really bothered me. I am trying to let the Princess be independent so I thought about turning this negative situation in to a teaching moment and on the ten minute drive to home, I talked about why I am so adamant about doing the best job she can do as that lady was not and how it made her feel so discouraged, and we also talked about being assertive in a firm but kind way. (I may have failed a bit on the kindness with my interaction with the lady, but I did hold back and it bothers me that I felt I had to hold back instead of dealing with it on a level of love...I am still missing those wonderful opportunities, but I trust God will just keep providing them.)

~ My Lord, every encounter is an opportunity to learn and to share Your love. I realize more and more how much I need to surrender in this area to You and also how my daughter needs to still be guided into her independence. May she also look to You for guidance on her own.~

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Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.