Mostly I’m the poster child for the socially awkward. I despise parties and loathe small talk. Introduce books into the equation and something akin to a miracle happens. I can and do approach strangers when they are reading books. Curiosity overcomes fear and the book nerd wins out over the social dork. I’m not subtle about it either.
Case in point: Today my husband and I went hiking with the dogs on Arabia Mountain. In a covert seating area, I spotted a guy sprawled on a wooden swing reading a book. I barely noticed the guy himself, but I saw the book. I had to know what he was reading. I had no ulterior motive. I wasn’t looking for some excuse to talk to this stranger. In fact, in any other circumstance, I would have ignored him, if I had even noticed him at all. But, he was READING a BOOK! So, social phobias aside, I went brazenly up to him and asked what he was reading.
The book was [simpleazon-link asin=”1883319684″ locale=”us”]Breaking the Death Habit : The Science of Everlasting Life[/simpleazon-link] by Leonard Orr. What followed was a 5 minute discussion of Indian mystics, immortals, meditations and deep breathing exercise. I offered no opinion or judgement. I was simply fascinated that in the middle of the woods, I discovered a reader looking for enlightenment. If I hadn’t asked, I would have missed a memorable and enriching encounter.
I miss literary discussions. Such lively debates were the life-blood of my undergraduate experience. To this day, I only fully engage in conversations about literature. Nothing else grabs my attention. Not to mention, literature offers a somewhat neutral place to discuss religion, politics and other tricky topics. As long as the topics are discussed in relation to the book, the pages act as a buffer. In other words, the reader I met didn’t regale me with his personal opinions on the philosophy being put forth in the book he was reading. He stated the philosophy of the book, and as such, there was no need to be put off. It was an exploration, and I appreciated the fact that he was a thinking person. Another book nerd like myself.
Book nerd encounters are more rare outside of bookstores and libraries, so I cherish them when they happen. It’s an instant kinship. If only for a moment.
The situation: Patron comes in, hands us library card, wants to use computer.
Library: This card has overdue items and excessive fines and is blocked. You will need to clear the account.
Patron: I don’t know what you’re talking about! I NEVER checked out those books!
Library: Oh. Well. We always require a library card so you will need to check with the police about a stolen ID, or, clear the account.
Patron: Wait! That isn’t my card! That’s my BROTHER’S card! We must have accidentally exchanged cards.
Library: Do you have your own card?
Patron: At home. I’ll just use his and he can come in and clear the account later.
Library: No. Your own card will be required.
Patron: Oh, here it is!
Library: Given the circumstances we will need to see identification.
Patron: WHAT?? I left it in the car.
Library: We will wait.
Patron leaves and doesn’t come back – leaving wallet behind. Wallet which has 3 different library cards with 3 different names, 2 different driver’s licenses with different names, 2 social security cards, and 3 credit cards. We turned it over to the police.
MORAL: If you are going to steal someone’s library card, find someone without overdue books!
*Used with the permission of the Director from a neighboring library system who shared it on the Director’s ListServe (and no she did not make this up).
Kathy Pillatzki, Assistant Director of Collection Development for Henry County Library System in Georgia, reads an especially poignant selection from Harper Lee’s celebrated book To Kill a Mockingbird in honor of Banned Books Week 2011.
I’m sweaty, sunburned, bone-tired and broke, but, I’m deliriously happy. I was able to meet the writer of one of my favorite read-aloud books. I am now the proud owner of a signed copy (To The Loopy Librarian) of Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner. If you’re unfamiliar, Skippyjon Jones is a Siamese Cat that thinks he is a Chihuahua. He’s hyper and imaginative and loads of fun. I also met Libba Bray who is the author of several amazing young adult books. Her latest is Beauty Queens which is about a group of teenage pageant contestants who become stranded on a deserted island. I’m told by a fan that the author is particularly “snarky” in this book, a word which according to urban dictionary.com means “A witty mannerism, personality, or behavior that is a combination of sarcasm and cynicism.” What a great word! You can bet that I’ll be whipping that one out again. Finally, we met up with Tony DiTerlizzi and his wife (both of whom I’d had the privilege of seeing when I worked at the West Palm Beach Public Library). He’s promoting his new book The Search for Wondla, and my son bought that one to have signed. Daniel was a Spiderwick Chronicles fan back in late elementary school, so he was excited about this new creation by DiTerlizzi. Jealous are you? Fear not. The Decatur Book Festival hosts amazing authors every year on Labor Day weekend. So start saving up now. The festival is free, but you will want to buy lots of fantastic books. While you’re there, I highly recommend lunch at the Raging Burrito. Skippyjon Jones would love it there. Ole! By the way, a big kudos to my husband who stood patiently in long lines in the hot sun to help us get our books signed and didn’t fuss when I bought a few more books and went “slightly” over budget.
My daughter stepped on a little snake in the driveway tonight, and it bit her on the foot. My husband got a good look at it and figured out it wasn’t poisonous, and my daughter was really cool about it. She said, “Well, I don’t blame it for biting me. I’d bite too if I was stepped on.” Then, she proceeded to call her friends and tell them all about it. As for me, my first reaction was a mother’s concern. But, when the danger had passed, my next reaction was as a librarian. I went through my mental book catalog to see if I could recall one about snakes. Turns out, I have a great many books in my home library about bugs (thanks to my daughter’s obsession in her younger days), but none about snakes. So, I used Google. The culprit was a juvenile black racer. Mystery solved. Crisis averted. And my daughter has a cool story to tell….as does the snake.
My son asked me the other day what I would want to be if not a librarian. I was most certainly perplexed. Librarians are unique creatures who fit into the world like the proverbial square pegs in round holes. I am no exception. As such, I cannot imagine what else I would do. Maybe be a Ninja? or perhaps a Pirate? I already have a parrot, so I’m halfway there. I’d be interested to hear how other librarians would answer this question. Feel free to chime in.