Do you like libraries? I like libraries. I also love librarians and everything they have meant to me over the years. Growing up, I spent every moment I could in the library and with a librarian. It’s where I made my friends, discovered new worlds, and found a place that celebrated my desire to write more. Did you know there are checkout limits? There are. I hit the check out limit almost every time. And I read every book, cover to cover, and would be back to fill my backpack as soon I could get there. The librarians were my steadfast accomplices in plundering the written worlds encapsulated on the shelves I loved to scour. Did I mention I love libraries?
This week happens to be National Library week. With that in mind, I am celebrating everything about libraries, everything I love about them, and everything I miss about them. I asked people who work in libraries what they are missing right now about one of their favorite places. You will find some of their answers below. At the bottom of this article, you will find the conversation starter for library memories.
From Jeanine, a school librarian
What do you love about being a librarian?
The best thing about being a librarian is bringing the joy of books and reading to kids. It doesn’t matter the age level. The expression on the faces of young children when they enter the library for the first time and see all of the books just warms my heart. Even older students get excited when they find the latest book in their favorite series on the shelf. I also love the challenge of finding the perfect book for a reluctant reader.
What do you love about being in the library?
The role of the librarian is ever changing. For me, it’s the perfect blend of librarian, teacher, and media specialist. A librarian is no longer “the keeper of the books”. We are covering skills that help students become lifelong learners in the 21st century. A lot of our curriculum goes hand-in-hand with what happens in the classroom. We often partner with classroom teachers on projects. We have the challenge of giving students skills to navigate the digital world in a safe, responsible, and respectful manner.
What is your favorite library memory?
It’s difficult to pick a favorite memory. Of course, it’s wonderful when I connect with students over a book that I’ve read or recommended. I also love to see the look on first graders’ faces the first time they add a picture to their PowerPoints they are creating after researching a favorite animal. When it appears on the screen, they usually pop out of their seats and giggle. They are so proud of what they did.
What do you miss about being there?
It’s been difficult not getting to go into school and work with the students face-to-face. I also miss connecting with my colleagues. Schools are very much a community. We celebrate the success stories and try to help problem-solve any challenges together. The entire school community is working so hard to keep connecting with our students and their families in this new online learning environment.
From Julie, Assistant
What I love about being in the library
I thrive on the controlled chaos that can go along with working in a public space. While many people come to the library to browse for materials or work quietly on a computer, others come to the library to socialize, attend a program, or to see what’s going on in their community. Gone are the days of silent, dusty buildings full of academic tomes. Libraries are living, breathing community centers, keeping people connected to an ever-changing world. It can be really rewarding knowing you made a difference in someone’s day.
Favorite Library Memory
I could probably tell you at least 5 specific, passing moments, which left impressions on me. But memory can be based on a feeling. A feeling I have always had at the library is that of belonging. I visited my local library a lot as a child. I worked there as a teenager. While attending college, I needed it for school work. Now, as an adult, I work there again. The library is like your favorite aunt’s house. You know no matter how long you’re gone, you can come back to a warm welcome and a safe space. The library will always reside in my memory as a home away from home.
What Do I Miss About Being There?
(You mean besides getting to leave my house? I miss the auto parts store at this point.) To put it simply, I miss the people. Even the difficult ones, because they teach me patience and understanding. (They also give you fun stories for later.) The isolation in quarantine is especially glaring coming from a position where my job is to interact with large numbers of people. I also really, really, really, really, really miss real books. Digital books are amazing and I love that they are keeping everybody reading and engaged right now. But it’s still hard to not be able to peruse the stacks.
Start a conversation about a favorite library moment
Now let’s chat about starting a conversation with someone about their favorite library moment and how we do that. We start with questions that can be answered in one word answers or with yes or no.
Start with questions like
- Have you been to a library?
- Do you love libraries?
- Do you hate libraries?
- And what do like where was your favorite library moment?
- Where did it happen?
- When did it happen?
- Who were you with?
- Did you discover your favorite book for the first time in a library?
The follow-up questions from that would be something like
- How did that make you feel when that happened?
- What do you want people to remember?
- And why is this moment important to you?
Those are some ways that you can start a storytelling conversation around someone's favorite library moment. I hope that during this week, and of course beyond that, you take some time to start conversations with the people around you about libraries, about books, and about reading in general.
Abbreviated Audio for this article
Looking for that thing to help you keep your storytellers engaged and talking? For the writer's in your care, this journal will keep them talking for a good long while. Encourage them (if they can) to reach out via phone or video to family members and share the memories they write about.
This journal was designed for storytellers in their sunset years who are ready to write about and share their memories. Simple to use and elegant enough to keep around to remind you of them long after they are gone.