From the Book Drop

Time to drop off the over-dues. Kids cranky, me crankier. The car’s been cluttered with these things for days. Almost late to meet babysitter at home. Arrive at branch library, tell kids to stay in car,it’s only a dropoff. Oldest kid demands copy of a classic she’s read repeatedly. Mumble vague assent.
Enter library. Do not find item requested. Grab 3 new books on top shelf display with uncharacteristic flash judgment, plus a Fancy Nancy (not my fave) for the younger one. Kismet, jacket appeal, title: whichever of these got my hand to reach out, there was certainly no input from my voracious yet picky tween reader. I’ll report back.

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Lap-sit Queens, Pirates, and other Librarian Heroes

The librarian who writes Hi Miss Julie gets a big bloggy hug from Kid Lit Vulture for her recent post on why good libraries are good. They reach out.

They meet people where they are, whether in space, time, or humanity. As she points out, all librarians can learn from good children’s librarians:

“Children’s librarians are–whether by instinct, design, or learned behavior–are skilled actors. Perhaps its all the dramatic reading we do, but we know how to use our bodies and our voices effectively to provoke a response. We can soothe or excite depending on what the situation requires, which, in the realm of public service, is crucial.”

Some of my strongest personal connections have been with the children’s librarians who have been my own kids’ children’s librarians. In rare cases, the librarian knows of my affection. For the most part, I haven’t come clean about the ways I’ve learned from our librarians, been buoyed up out of the ditches of parenting day-to-day, or simply become a better reader or parent due to their unwitting ministrations. Since we’ve moved several times during my children’s childhood (and some of the librarians have been fired, hired, or quit) the workaday connections have been broken.

Not so for the internal connections. Elena, from our very first lap-sit, a library student at the time, had that superhero librarian quality that Hi Miss Julie describes in her post. Later, Connie was our librarian in the wilds of bad behavior, punctuated by soul-saving shared reading. She has her rightful place in my heart, too. Carol, another lap-sit queen, gave a piece of her mind to an irate older patron who opined that my youngest child was being too noisy in the library. Word up to Carol for that!

There are others in my bookish pantheon—a school librarian who knew that Reading Counts was more harm than good, a man with an occasional clown nose and pirate drawl, and the elderly bookshop owners who fed me oyster crackers in their warren of an office. Thanks to all of them and thanks to Miss Julie for her goad to her profession.

Postscript: Miss Julie, you really have no business calling a beetle a cockroach in your series on librarianship and outreach. Perhaps I’d lambaste you for that elsewhere. On the other hand, one must assert the right of cockroaches to dream of being a beetle (a glittery one at that), and beetles cockroaches.