Archive for March, 2010

A Librarian’s Dream

Before I entered the world of libraries, I was active in the theater, both as an actress and a director. I have been in hundreds of shows and I can tell you, no matter how many years I’ve been doing it, my pre-show dreams are besieged with the ubiquitous actor’s nightmare.

Surely you can guess what that would be (in some form or another). I get out on stage and I suddenly can’t remember my lines or, I discover I’m in the wrong play, or the worst, I look down and instead of my costume, I am stark naked.

Well, I have just discovered that actors aren’t the only ones with performance nightmares.

Last week, one of my colleagues told this night time tale:

“I was trying to get ready for a storytime and for some reason, I wasn’t in our branch. Instead, I was stuck in some other branch and no matter how hard I tried to find appropriate books, nothing was available. I was beginning to feel quite desperate and time was of the essence. So, I gave up on finding something there and just counted on being able to grab a book or two at my own branch. After all, the adults were probably squirming with their little ones, waiting for me. I got in my car and raced back. I ran into the building, grabbed a couple of books and headed into the story time room. As soon as I sat down, I could tell everyone was furious with me. They kept looking at their watches and murmuring to each other about the lateness of the hour. I took a deep breath, opened the first book, and it had transformed into an adult book! There wasn’t a single picture. The print was small and compressed. And the closer I looked at it – it wasn’t even English. I tossed it down and picked the next one: the same problem! I tried not to panic. I told myself to take a breath. The children were getting grumpy. The adults were complaining and asking me to start, for heaven’s sake. All right, I thought, I would just tell a story. I was a parent; I told my own children a million off the cuff stories. I’d be fine. Except, I wasn’t fine. I opened my mouth and nothing came out. Then, when I pushed it, the sounds that came out were not English but gibberish. I wanted to scream, ‘Help!’ but even that didn’t come out right. . . . And then I woke up.”

Not just a dream—a nightmare!

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Finding Closure

We just finished our annual Winter Reading Program geared for adults and teens. Adults must read five books from January to the first week in March and teens must read three. The program has gotten more popular with each year and for some reason, a good number of our patrons look forward to the annual incentive: a branded Winter Reading Program coffee mug.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve got two shelves in my kitchen cabinets full of mugs, a drawer in my office with mugs, and a shelf above my credenza loaded with library mugs and Folkmanis puppets. And yet, of course, as a librarian, I continue to read my five books each year and add to my collection anyway. (One year, we switched incentives to a branded post-it note cube but the “haters” came out of the woodwork. We went back to mugs the following year, to say the least.)

Anyway, here’s the problem. We always run out of mugs. Most people who have been participating in the program know this happens and if they are hot for the mugs, they read early and pick up the mug in February.

Last week, on the next to last day of the program, we had a patron come in who was so excited because she had completed her reading.

She confessed, “it was a major effort to read all those books. I can’t wait to get my mug.”

Unfortunately, we were out. Everyone was out. There wasn’t a single mug to be had anywhere in our system.

(I suppose I could have given her my mug. . . did I say I was a librarian? You know, the kind that goes to Library conferences and picks up pens, tote bags, posters, and twinkly things?)

Well, our patron was dismayed. She asked, “Since, there aren’t any mugs, how about a pen?”

We give out branded pens in January to the folks who sign up. No pens. Then she asked if we had ANYTHING to give her for completing the program and truthfully, we didn’t.

She was silent for some moments. “But, I need closure.”

Naturally, we apologized, but what else was there to say?

Later that day, I bought a bag of chocolate bars just in case we had anyone else who really needed closure.

P.S. We collect the book lists our WRP completers create and provide the list as a Reader’s Advisory tool. Here’s a sampling from our “closure” patron:

  • The Monster in the cave : How to face your fear and anxiety and live your life;
  • Be happy without being perfect; and
  • The confident woman.

Go figure.