This week I started my new job as a circulation clerk at the local library here in Lafayette, Indiana. The work environment is great, my coworkers are cool, and the position pays well. But the best part of the job is how it’s changed the way I see libraries–and in just one week.
Libraries have always been big in my life. Growing up, my grandmother was the librarian at our high school. Every summer, my parents would pay not a small amount of money to get library cards at the Muncie Public Library (we were out of the tax zone for the city). And later, as an English major at Ball State, I spent the majority of my time in Bracken, our university library. So, yeah, just about every stage of my life thus far has included a vital library element of some kind.
The only problem, though, was that I always saw them as a service for me to use. They had books I loved to read, books I needed for research, quiet spaces to write in, rooms to reserve for group projects, computers, printers, copiers, etc. (believe me, I could go on).
This week changed that.
Well, really it was one little girl checking out a book I once had as a kid.
Growing up, this was one of my favorite books. The love between Little Bear and his grandparents mirrored the relationships between my grandparents and myself. Whenever it was read to me by my mother, I felt I could easlily slip into his life. Since then, there have been a lot characters I’ve felt this way about, but truly Little Bear was the first.
When I saw a little girl checking out one of my favorite books, I realized that a library is more than a service in the same way a book is more than an object. There is a substance that can’t be seen or identified regarding the books we read and the passion we have for them.
Since the little girl, I’ve handled more books in four days than I think I ever actually have before (which, as an English major, is more than a little baffling), and every time I help a patron check out–whether it’s two books or a heavy stack–I’m always struck now with more meaning than before.
Okay, okay, maybe I’m getting a little hyper-poetic and cheesy, but damn. Books.
Piles of paper glued or stitched together filled with symbols that somehow draw emotion from us and make us feel.
I don’t think it’s wrong here to say that’s pretty fucking amazing.
And now I get to work in a building that stores and distributes them to anyone who wants to sign up.
Got any stories or love for libraries? Share them down below!