Thursday, August 30, 2012

Two moments of library cuteness

Work has been hard and stressful lately. (Did I tell you all that I am managing two locations one of which also doesn't have a children's librarian? It's special.) There continues to be a massive in pouring of books to read for the Newbery. (Thus far I've received in the mail 386 books so far, but I continue to also pull in from other sources.) And I've been focusing on the negative too much. I'm trying tricks to keep myself from going into a funk. When I can tell I've been complaining about work too much, I tell my fiance we're having an "us" night and even if all we do is sit on the couch together, I'm not allowed to mention work. And I'm re-living some of my favorite library moments. So for you, here are two of my favorite library stories.

A few years ago, when I was a Kansas library, it was a sunny summer day and in to my vision ran a young boy about 5 years-old.  As fast as his little legs could carry him he was at the reference desk and placing in front of me a plastic shoebox sized storage box. "HI!" he practically yelled, and before I could respond opened up the box, pulled out a caterpillar and placed it gently (as gently as a five year-old can) on the desk in front of me. "Grandma and I found this caterpillar in the garden and she said you would know what kind it was." About that time, Grandma, a little out of breath, caught up with him.

She and I convinced him to put the caterpillar back in the box where he had thoughtfully been supplied with twigs and leaves. The little boy was sure to inform me they took the leaves from the plant on which they had found the caterpillar. I reassured him that was very sensible.

After finding them several caterpillar/moth/butterfly field guides, they sat down at a table and began their investigation. On every likely looking picture, the little boy would plunk the caterpillar for a side by side comparison. Grandma would read aloud the descriptions. When the most likely looking candidate was identified, he took further investigative steps. The description included that the fully grown caterpillar would be about as big as a big toe. So he put the caterpillar by his toe (sandals). Then deciding it probably meant grown-up feet, he tried his grandma's toe.

Eventually the caterpillar was determined to be a tomato moth (it was found on one of Grandma's tomato plants) and he happily trundled off with his new pet/science project. Fantastic day, fantastic use of library resources, fantastic coaching by grandma in discovery and learning, and fantastic of all library staff (including the branch manager who wondered by) in not pushing the "not pets or insects in the library" policy.

About two weeks later two brothers of about the same age came running into tell me they had found a SNAKE! in their backyard. (Boys between age 4 and 10 are often only capable of pronouncing snake as SNAKE!)  But they said their mom wouldn't let them bring it to show me, but that I would be able to help them find out what type it was. After consulting the books, one of which they took home for further study, we agreed that it was a garter snake. (No surprise to their mother or me as those things are rampant in Kansas. I think I caught a couple as a kid.)

That's one of the things I love as a librarian. I love watching patrons, especially children, who are genuinely curious and want to know more. I love helping people learn to research at all levels. And there is something magical about a child who for the first time is trying to find the answer all by themselves. Blessings on all parents who encourage that process and not give the answer in the interest of time.

Lest ye think all my work is gloom and doom right now, a patron I helped with the computer today just came in and thanked me profusely and complimented the helpfulness of the staff right and left. (They are a fantastic bunch.) Good stuff happens every day at the library, and it is different every day. That is one of the best parts of being a librarian.