Last week I went to the library after I dropped off Annalyn at preschool. I’d finished reading the first book of a series and wanted to check out the second installment. According to the library’s website, the second book was available at the library branch not far from the school.
I looked for the book but couldn’t find it. I’m no stranger to the library or its shelving systems, but I just didn’t see it. So I grabbed the third book, which was easy to find, and walked up to the counter. I pointed to the book and said to the librarian, “I’m looking for the second book in this series. Can you help me find it?”
She squinted at the book, then turned it around to face her. As she started to click on her computer, she mumbled the name of the author and then asked me, “Do you know the title?”
She didn’t know anything about this series of books.
I told her, and she did find the book for me. (It was shelved in a special section for award-winners.) She was friendly and even walked over to the section with me instead of doing the discount store point and wave. But I was shocked – and, yes, a little appalled – that she didn’t know the book I was looking for.
It reminded me of a scene in “You’ve Got Mail,” where Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) has closed her children’s bookstore and visits the box store that put her out of business. As she sits, sadly, in the children’s section, she hears a customer ask a sales associate: “Do you have the “Shoe” books?”
The salesperson has no clue what she’s talking about, so Kathleen pipes up with the author’s name (and spelling) and a recommendation for which book in the series to read first.
As she walks away, she says to herself, “They know nothing, they know absolutely nothing.”
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that a librarian should know about every book on the shelves! But I do think they should be familiar with the most popular books or series in the most popular genres. And the book I was looking for? It is a popular one.
Even worse? It’s a KIDS’ series. What if I’d been a 10-year-old kid asking for help? Imagine the difference it would make if the librarian responded with, “Oh yeah, that’s a great series! Who’s your favorite character?” or even, “Oh, right. My nephew read these books and loved them!”
I know I’m asking a lot here. And maybe it’s too much. But I don’t think it should be. After all, I’ve never watched an episode of True Blood, but I know that the show is based on a series of books. And I can tell you the name of that series and the author’s name, even though I’ve never read one of the books either.
Later that day I went to a different library while Annalyn was at Awana. While I was sitting at the computer, I heard a young person ask a question. The librarian’s response simultaneously made me want to throw up my hands in disgust and enroll myself in a library science master’s program: “Oh, I don’t know that section very well. But you can look up young adult books online.”
Online?! Online. Of course he can look it up online. But he was asking YOU, Mr. Librarian.
See, I think kids should read. A lot. But I know that’s not always the case. So if a child is asking for help? For the love of the Dewey decimal system, that child should get some help! He shouldn’t be told, “Oh, look online,” or “I don’t know anything about those books.”
I could go on. I really could. But I realize this is the second ranting post I’ve written this week, so perhaps I should focus on my own revelation from that day: I think maybe I should be a librarian.
Why I Would Make a Great Librarian:
- I love to read.
- I love books – actual books. I love the feel of them and even the smell of them. Sure, I’m a blogger and I love technology. But even more than that? I love books.
- I love reading lots of different types of books. Right now I’m on a big paranormal YA kick, but I also read tons of gritty mysteries, spy novels and political thrillers, Christian mystery novels, romance and Christian romance. I also read some historical fiction, some Christian historical fiction and the occasional classic. And while I don’t love them as much as novels, I read non-fiction books, too. (Just a lot more slowly than the novels I inhale.)
- My first job was in a library.
- Sometimes I still find myself straightening books on the shelves, and I never put books down or back out of order.
- I am a huge proponent of the library, because it’s dumb to buy a book I’m only going to read once. I even check out movies, CDs and TV shows from the library.
- Goodreads.com is one of my favorite websites.
- I really like things/people to be quiet, so I’ve got that librarian <i>Ssshhh!</i> down pat.
- One of my favorite books from last year was all about libraries and librarians. It was not even a novel. It was a non-fiction book about librarians, and I found it fascinating.
- See above story. I was in two different libraries in one day. If that’s not a sign I should be a librarian, I don’t know what is.
I’ve actually done some research on this idea of mine. Becoming a librarian would require another degree. I’m not opposed to that idea, because I love school, but it seems higher education is still not free. So until I win the get-your-master’s-degree lottery, I suppose I’ll have to make do with reading every book I can get my hands on and straightening my own bookshelves.
Although the next time I hear a clueless librarian talking with a kid, I might have to pull a Kathleen Kelly and help out.
Have you ever thought you’d make a great [fill in the blank]? What would you be, if education or training were free?
This post will be linked to Top Ten Tuesday at OhAmanda. And it has a few affiliate links.