Normal at the Library

It’s been a big week or so at the library, and to celebrate my day off, I’m going to blog about public libraries.  Yep.  (Don’t worry, I spent a chunk of the day learning how to make Chinese Pork Dumplings.  That deliciousness will be posted soon.)

I already told you how awesome the blog “I Work at a Public Library” happens to be.  This time, I’ll share a specific post.  This stuff can’t be made up, folks:

Roses, Stop Smelling the

Today while roving I witnessed a woman pick up a gardening book, open it behind her back, and fart loudly into the pages. She then reshelved the book and walked away.

I grew up in a household that doesn’t approve of “bathroom humor,” so I’m sorry for my bad humor, Mom and Dad.  It is funny though.

Reason 2,948 Why I Love My Job

I love my job for lots of reasons–for the sheer insanity that happens sometimes when you’re working with the general public.  For the random information I learn every day.  For the chance to help people with small things like using a website that can impact the big things like getting a job.  It’s great.

But today I like my job because in the building where I work, there are thousands and thousands of stories waiting to be read.

I spent a large chunk of yesterday reading.  It was my day off, and no one else was home (except for Peanut).  What better way to spend a few hours than polishing off one of those library books I needed to return today?

I read about the Civil War, and I learned all about various battles and spy rings and all sorts of exciting things.  So many of those things happened in my adopted state of Virginia, and I didn’t know about them before.  It was kind of amazing.  (I mean, I knew that lots of Civil War battles took place in Virginia.  I just didn’t know as many details as I should have known.)

Today I started a new book that’s taking me to Oxford, and I get to soak up an entirely different set of experiences.

photo by Emily Aimsworth, found on

photo by Emily Aimsworth, found on

Color me happy!  (And yes, that is why you should visit your local library.  It’s free and exciting and not at all dull.)

Return to the Land of Books

Sometime in the past few years, I forgot what it’s like to work in a library.  You’re constantly (or semi-constantly) helping people find books or making lists of books or sorting through new books.  So if you’re someone who likes to read, it’s natural that you’ll find at least one book a day that you want to read.

Can you read a book a day?  Because I can’t.

Which means that every day, my reading list gets less reasonable.  In a week, I will have picked out more books than I can read in the next five years.  Approximately.  It also means that I can bring home books any old time.  Today’s choices were an assortment of gardening books for Scott and for me.


I bet you can pick which books are for which person.  Except that there’s a curveball in the stack.  Outwitting Deer is for all three of us (Peanut being the third).  He needs to learn how to lure the deer to our house so we can have endless venison in our freezer, even if Scott is doing well on that front by himself.  Peanut could always learn some new deer luring skills.

If that isn’t enough reading for the night, the retail industry was thoughtful enough to mail us seven catalogs today.  Seven!  I love a good catalog, but seven seems excessive to me.

It is a helpful reminder that we’re supposed to get our shopping lists together within 24 hours of Thanksgiving OR ELSE.  First come the turkey and parades and football (and thanks!).  Then the mild list-induced panic.  Then Christmas Eve, which is my favorite.

Treehouse Naps

There’s something just right about a rainy day at the library.  Getting out of bed is kind of a struggle (and that’s an understatement, since you could say that I have “kind of a struggle” getting out of bed every day), but once you’ve made it from the cocoon of pillows and sheets to the over-air-conditioned library, things get better.  The weather doesn’t technically make any difference in my work day.  It does, however, remind me of some great moments in college.

Rain has always struck me as the perfect excuse for a nap.  I wasn’t particularly fond of napping in my dorm room though.  It made me feel lazy to be sleeping like a rock at 2 p.m. when my roommate would return from whatever productive things she had been up to.  So rain or no rain, I spent many an hour in college trudging up the curved library stairway to the second or third floor, picking out a window alcove, and making the most of two soft, pushed-together chairs.  The chairs made an ideal napping spot complete with rails to keep you from falling onto the floor.  Those rails were more useful than you might think.  When the surface you’re sleeping on is about one square inch bigger than your body, it helps to be locked into place by something.

I did occasionally study for finals or do some research at the library, but it won my heart through naps, not high-tech equipment or well-chosen books.  If anything about college was perfect in its simplicity and lack of responsibility, it was nap time in the library.  I was never once late for class because of those naps, and I never felt like it was wasted time.  The library turned into some secret part of the universe where only good things could happen.  No one knew where you were, and you woke up looking out at treetops that made you think just for a second that you might be in a treehouse.

I might be at work, but I’m thinking about sleeping in a treehouse in San Antonio.  Like I said, there’s something just right about a rainy day at the library.

Patron Quirks

There are more and more patrons coming into the library covered in calamine lotion, with oozing eyes, and suffering from other very obvious and probably contagious health problems.  Mmm.  I just love helping someone find a book when touching the same surfaces will very likely make me rush to the store to buy calamine lotion, too.  Thanks for sharing that, guys.

If I could pull it off, I would try to act all grandmotherly and politely convince them to go home and take care of themselves.  Might have to wait a few years before I can do that.

People are also starting to answer their cell phones more often in the library.  I really don’t mind that, since it adds a new layer of entertainment to my day.  I’ll be working on a spreadsheet when a phone rings with, “If you want my body and you think I’m sexy.”  I look up and am surprised every single time by the person who picked that as their ringtone.  Really?  That’s your song?  The song/patron combo changes every day, and the shock remains.  People are funny.

Labels Matter Sometimes

Having now fully recovered from the loss of my post on Monday, I’ll try to tell that story again.  Fortunately, the story is complete now.  No cliff-hangers for you.  Aren’t you relieved?!  I’m sure you would have been on the edge of your seat.

I have a little problem with assigned reading.  The labels “assigned” and “required” can take any book that I wanted to read and turn it into something I avoid like the plague.  If it’s going to be discussed in class, why read it and hear about it again later?  If it isn’t going to be talked about it in class, it must not be that important.  That reasoning served me pretty well in school settings.

A few years later, it seems that problems of your youth don’t disappear once you hit the “real world.”  Required reading is a significant part of my current job, and I still resist it with every fiber of my being.  I even get to help choose the books now, but adding that dreaded “required” label does the same old thing it did when I was 16.

Case in point: a book that I’ve been excited about reading for at least a year and a half was the very same book I was supposed to lead a discussion of today at work (love that I get to pick book club choices!).  As soon as it became an assignment, I couldn’t make myself pick it up.  Every other book on my shelf suddenly looked more appealing than that one.

I know this isn’t college.  I can’t get away with making a few semi-insightful, vague remarks in a discussion.  I have to ask the questions that lead to the insightful answers.  So I tried to read it, I really did.  Six hours after the book club meeting, I’m still 65 pages away from the end of the book.  I did read the last 5 pages this morning, however.  I had to know whether it was Miss Scarlet in the observatory with the candlestick or Professor Plum in the hall with the rope. It’s a mystery book club, and you can’t really discuss the mystery if you don’t know what happens in the end.

And how’s this for a twist ending?!  Totally to my surprise, the last pages of the book reveal that the main character is in fact married to his daughter.  When he figures that out, he promptly jumps out a window.  After digesting that for a few minutes, it’s on to the assignments for next month.  Books to read: 2.  Pages of both books read so far: 7.