I can’t even pin down the real timeframe; she was just kind of there. And magical. And amazing. And inspiring.
I am speaking, of course, of a librarian.
I know I’ve mentioned my son a few times already here. He’s my partner in book-loving crime. My girls like to read as well, but he, like me, freely says books are his life. When he was small we would go to the library weekly…or more…or daily. Don’t judge. We liked to just grab books off the shelf and start reading them, not even checking the title or cover first. We discovered amazing books this way.
Even more importantly, we discovered a friend. The children’s librarian began to suggest things he might like. My son, in turn, would suggest things she would like. Before long I was an afterthought and he would sit at her desk with her, talking books for hours. If a patron came in looking for book suggestions, my son would take them to the stacks to help them pick out books. (He was only 7 or 8 at the time.) He would rearrange the books that were out of order and she would order every book he ever suggested, including an entire series only available in the UK that she, I’m pretty sure, subsidized. And sometimes (don’t tell anyone) she would let him get the book before it hit cataloging. They even bought each other birthday gifts and she would come to watch him in events at school (with her equally amazing daughter). Really.
One summer we made a list of things my kids wanted to do before the end of the summer. It included things like “go blueberry picking, make ice cream, go to the ocean.” My son’s first request? “Go to the library and stay until it closes at 9 p.m.” And we did. And his best friend, his favorite librarian, took him on rounds with her at the end of the night — he got to kick people out of the conference rooms, lock all the doors and gates, check out the cataloging and staff rooms, the works. And it was pure magic. He was 9 and it is still one of his all-time favorite nights.
Last year, this bringer-of-all-good-things gifted him with another amazing experience. She brought my then 10 year old son and 8 year old daughter (and me — hooray!) to the American Library Association mid-winter conference. These kids were awed by the whole experience. They met authors (See the picture with Josh Funk below!) and collected more books than we could carry. They discovered new favorite writers and my son now regularly tells people he is a future librarian (unless he is a professional soccer player or marine biologist.)
Now that he is in middle school, our library trips are not as frequent (sadly), but he always finds his friend first and is excited to share his latest read.
I know that the job of librarian can be rewarding, and also, like any customer-facing job, have its days when she just wants to bang her head against the desk repeatedly. But at the end of the day, this child, my son, has been changed by the kindness, the respect and the welcome she has always given him. She has given him a gift by accepting and encouraging him to be exactly who he is and showing him that it isn’t just okay, that it is actually perfect.
And to you, our favorite librarian, we hope you know that you have made him better for having known you (and me too.)
To check out last week’s My Day, Monday post on the book “Eighty Days,” click here!