Tracy Kampa

A library group once held an essay contest titled “What your librarian wants you to know.” While I didn’t enter the contest, that phrase has taken up a small corner of my brain since. Here, then, is what YOUR librarian wants you to know.

The smile that I give you when you walk up to the desk is genuine; I am delighted that you are here, and I’m especially delighted that you feel comfortable enough to ask me your question. The slight frown and wrinkled brow that may follow your question have absolutely nothing to do with you, and everything to do with me trying to get it right. Inside my head, I’m trying to make sure I understand the question, clarify your assignment or request, and assess the level of interaction you are seeking. (Sometimes, you’ve used up all your courage just to ask the question…my throwing information at you might result in anxiety.) I am also mentally going through everything I know I can find in our collection and trying to come up with Dewey-approved search terms that will best lead us to the answer.

My next questions are just to define parameters: Do you need a book of a certain length? (An aside to educators here: There are publishing standards for many books, especially children’s books. Did you know that most biographies are about a hundred pages? While you certainly know that your fifth or sixth grader can read a longer biography, they are rare. I so appreciate you wonderful educators who look for quality of content rather than the number of pages!) If you’re just looking for a good book, I might ask you what you read last that you really liked. I promise you that I don’t care AT ALL what the answer is, it’s just that that question gets me in the ballpark faster. You can even tell me that you’ve never read a book you enjoyed, and I’ll applaud your honesty. My Grandma used to say that there’s a lid for every pot; in the library, we know, every book has its reader. Again, if your response is met by a quizzical look by me, please know that I’m just thinking.

While we are walking to find your book, I’m often talking about why we are going to a certain area. I’m giving you a tiny lesson about how to find things in the library, about how books are arranged, or about how the author’s last name is the most important piece of information we need to find a particular book. You don’t have to listen to or remember, any of what I’m prattling on about. I’m here to help you find whatever you need, but I know that some young patrons are genuinely curious about how the books are organized. They’d like to crack the code, both to learn more, and so that they might be able to search more independently in the future.

If all is as it should be, and a stray three-year-old hasn’t helpfully re-arranged the shelves for us, we’ll find your book. If you’re trying to find a good book to read, I may suggest another title or two, and encourage you to check them all out. Finally, this is the most important thing I want you to know: If I somehow missed the mark, if I interpreted something you said incorrectly, please, please, please come back and give me another chance. Helping you find a book you enjoy is the most important thing I do. And that is what I want you to know.

This week at your library:

Monday, Feb. 25 at 9:30 and 10:30 a.m., it’s Book Time!

Join ECFE teachers in the Story Circle for books, songs, finger plays, flannel board stories, and all other sorts of fun! Then move to the Community Room for a snack, a craft, and a time to play and visit.

Thursday, Feb. 28, 6 p.m.

Experience the sights and culture of Nepal through photos and stories. Join Kim Young as she shares her adventures with Global Dental Relief. Along with providing dental care to children in need, her journey included visiting a weaving group that empowers women and hiking on the Mt. Everest trail.

Friday, March 1 at 10:30 a.m., join us for Tiny Explorers!

Are you a baby looking for adventure? This program is geared towards our littlest patrons, age birth to 23 months. Sensory experiences will be available for babies to explore in a safe environment. Meet other caregivers. Eat crackers.

Saturday, March 2 at 10:15 and 11:15 a.m., it’s time for Saturday Story Time!

Join ECFE teachers in the Story Circle for books and songs, then move to the Community Room for a snack, a craft, and a time to play and visit. Families may earn one Baby Steps coupon for attending this Story Time.

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