Sunday, April 13, 2008

National Library Week: I love my job

What can you say? Some days the serendipity just gets you. I had a call late this morning that the Children's desk was going to be short-handed due to a family illness. A few quick calls did not get us anyone to cover, so I went in, grumbling, to work it until we could get somebody.

I was grumbling because I wasn't thrilled about going in on my day off -- especially since I got called in the previous morning at 4:30 AM with a security system problem -- and because I was pretty sure that I couldn't do very good work for the patrons. What if I got a tough reader's advisory question about current children's lit? What if somebody needed to book a group tour? Their tough luck to get a supposed librarian who's more of a bureaucrat, and who knows more about budget spreadsheets than how to sign up for story hour.

Of course, my fears were -- as usual -- unjustified. Vicky, my colleague in Children's, covered for me admirably. We were able to find another worker who graciously came in and covered (and did know how to work Children's). In the meantime, I was able to help a fifth-grader and his mom with a homework question, and discussed with them the uses and limits of Google and Wikipedia before pointing them to some books in the collection. I managed to quiet a rowdy group of twelve-year-olds fairly gracefully. I got a truck of adult DVDs shelved and got in some reader's advisory: "Yes, there were two versions of Wicker Man -- most critics consider the first one better, but they're both pretty strange." It's nice to feel like a librarian sometimes!

And then there was the barbershop quartet singing in the atrium. Dozens of people stopped to sit in chairs downstairs or just paused in the entryway to lean over the rail and listen to a song or two.

Most of all I was impressed with the very large and diverse group of people using the library. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, sunny and warm and the nicest weather for the past several days. But the library was jammed. Half an hour after we opened, there were about fifty people just in the Children's area. There was a long waiting queue for the Children's Internet stations. The adult nonfiction stacks had lots of browsers. Almost every table was full. There were lines at the checkout. The public services staff was hopping, answering questions and helping people find stuff.

Needless to say, this leaves me a lot more fired up about what we're doing than committee meetings or budget spreadsheets ever do. I'm impressed with how the community uses us, I'm impressed with how our staff comes through, and I'm impressed that we're doing the right thing to study our facility needs. It's great, but it's crowded!

No grumbling here -- I'm glad I got the chance to go into work today.


Joe Bongers said...

It was a great day down the road in Menasha, too. We kicked off NLW with a bluegrass concert. Attendance was especially strong, likely thanks to the book sale running at the same time, our first since reopening on Sundays in 2008. Add to that a great children's yoga program and the library was a wonderfully lively place. The sun streaming in through the windows undoubtedly helped as well. It was, indeed, a great day to be at work!

Terry Dawson said...

I'm going to miss Mayor Joe, but I'm glad there are a lot more folks making the days in Menasha great!