Dear Librarian, November 27, 2011
Warning: the patron you see strolling through the stacks might not be a patron, she might be a tourist. She might be me. Because every time I visit a new city, often before I hit the tourist spots, I visit the local library. Why? Certainly to get to see locals and witness them pursuing their dreams. Certainly, too, to be home amongst my own dreams, for books have given me my biggest ones. But besides these reasons, I visit libraries because they are the one place where pleasure and learning are free.
I have always loved libraries. One year I spent so much time at the Amarillo Downtown Library, I brought its librarians a large fruit basket at Christmas. Libraries were even a part of our family lore: My mother told us of Gloria, the woman with whom my father broke a wedding engagement when he found her underlining words in a library book. My mother nodded with disgust, as if my father had caught Gloria moonlighting at a strip club. To our minds, she had done something worse, for a library book is a sacred symbol of the blessings of community. Even when I can afford to buy books, I check them out in order to not miss that taste of holiness.
Not every patron, of course, appreciates libraries. Librarians do understand their specialness, and in my visits to libraries across the U.S., I have witnessed thousands of librarians showing grace to the frustrated, impatient souls unaware of the blessing they are standing in.
And for this I want to say thank you: Thank you for the kindness you show patrons every day who do not act as if they deserve it. Thank you for the hours you spend typing away and hunting down books, and for re-shelving those books once they are returned. Thank you for braving spreadsheets and slow-to-load websites and Adobe Photoshop and all the tools you use to reach out and meet your patrons’ needs. Thank you for spending the time with children that they need, and for being nice to grumpy children and their grumpier parents. Thank you for fielding your thousandth question about the Internet, and the ones thereafter, and for picking up the phone to kindly answer the same question you have answered a dozen times this week.
Though the patron for whom you order or check out a book today might not know to thank you for your hard work and your daily faith and patience, thank you for these things. You are the champions of our dreams, the crusaders for our growth, the soldiers who mark new territory for the expansion of our imaginations. Your work is profound, your effort glorious, your contribution quiet but immense.
An Admiring Patron
Our guest blogger today is Elizabeth White. Elizabeth is currently at work on her M.F.A. in Young Adult and Children’s Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has an M.F.A. in Poetry from Texas State University and has published her poetry online and in print journals. She writes from Wimberley, Texas, a small town outside Austin. Elizabeth can be contacted at email@example.com
If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I second that letter of admiration. Libraries are indeed places that deserve respect and reverence of the kind that puts them above city funding cuts.
What a lovely letter!
Thank you for expressing so well and lovingly the appreciation zillions of us feel for librarians! Love the fact that Gloria was dumped for underlining in a library book.
Thanks so much Elizabeth. It’s sentiments like these shared here and there from our families, visitors, at conferences from writers and publishers that keep us going!