posted March 8, 2014 9:04 AM by Alec Chunn
I may have mentioned before that I volunteer at the Public Library of Brookline on Thursdays. A few weeks ago, I helped a record number of patrons: six. While this probably seems inconsequential to most people, this number is a breakthrough. This means six people thought I might help them; six people thought I looked like a librarian (whatever that means); and six people thought I was qualified. The usual number is zero, sometimes one or two. And, most of the time, I just get asked where the bathroom is.
Fact: I am the Teen Room monitor. This means I basically just sit in the room and make sure nothing too disastrous happens. But, since the kids aren't particularly rowdy on most days, I basically hold an after school study session. And the vast majority of the time, I'm doing my homework along with them. Or writing these blogs.
I think perhaps that I sometimes look like I'm terribly busy. But, really, I love being interrupted. Having never worked in a library setting before, this volunteering gig is my basically my introduction. It's a taste of what's to come--even though it's not exactly a complete picture. So, when I'm feeling brave, I sometimes like to pretend that I actually am a librarian. Because ultimately I am, right? I'm in library school. And these patrons won't really know whether I have the degree or not. They just see my badge (which looks terribly official, I might add).
I know I don't yet have reference training; I know I don't yet have any formal experience with reader advisory. And yet, on that day with six patrons, I dared to give out a list of recommendations to a mother. I wasn't familiar with the book (Maze Runner), so I gave her what advice I could. A title or two I was able to conjure from my limited experiences with dystopian YA. She seemed satisfied enough with my answer. But I wasn't. While she perused, I handwrote a list of more books along with their call numbers even though she didn't ask. It was literally the highlight of my week. I even told all of Facebook.
Anyways, this mother came in while I was volunteering this week. Her words to me: "You're the guy that gave me that list a few weeks ago. The City of Ember is a hit. He's onto book two. Thank you."
Sometimes, the people here make me feel like I actually am a librarian. But it's moments like these when, even if I don't have a job or a degree in the subject, I start to believe that I am. Or, at the very least, I know I must be doing something right.