Librarians are under-rated. Apart from all the books and reading material they have to organise and keep track of, they have as many humans to deal with.
I was nine years old when I met a real librarian and she taught me a few things about rules. One, rules are important. Two, you can break rules, and definitely bear the consequences. Three, rules are made by people who care. For now, let’s just limit these truths to the library she ruled over and do keep in mind that there were many more.
I used to follow her instructions about where to sit and what to read. She would choose a few books and leave them in the middle of the table for everyone to select. Then she would walk around making a note about which book each student was reading. A little before library hour would end, she would take another round to make sure that each student had actually made progress with what they were reading.
That last round is when she started taking notice of me. It took her about three library hours to figure out that I was doing something against her rules. She was the definition of uncompromising. The day she asked me to come to her table was terrifying.
She opened the illustrated Cinderella book I was reading and asked me if I knew how to read. I said I did and she squinted at me. She flipped to a page towards the end of the book and asked me a question about Cinderella’s godmother, and I answered. She flipped back and forth through the pages, asking me question after question. I answered them all and I answered them right. She asked me questions because she thought I was sitting and looking at the illustrations instead of reading.
This librarian, who never let a child off easy, probably wasn’t planning on doing that then either. She let me go and continued the interrogation with two other books on other days we visited the library. Eventually, she understood and she bent a rule for me; the rule she bent was the very one I broke. I had puzzled her by reading an entire book in one hour as a nine-year-old child. She made that rule for us: read a book till you finish it. I’d finish one in an hour and be on to another book in the next one. So, she let me.
I stopped fearing librarians after that and they have always been people I look forward to. I have met librarians who support you when you need the book for a few extra days; I have had a librarian who let me borrow books on her card because the three books on my card just weren’t enough and the same one let me hide books that I wanted to read over and over again.
They may be rigid, strict, painfully organised and measured when they speak, but they do so because it requires discipline on their part. From them, I have learnt how to make allowances and relax the rules that I make, especially when you find someone the rules weren’t made for.
Reader. Learner. Dreamer.
I am all about the little things in life!