I've been working at a public library now for one month and can do a bit of introspection, I think. Is it as good as I thought it would be? Oh yeah, and even better! (The only downside - and it's a big one - is the insurance for half-time employees is more than we pay now and twice as much as I thought it was. But that's because I misunderstood the word "biweekly." Duh. But since I didn't even expect any insurance, and I *can* get dental insurance for $20 a month, I'm still happy about the insurance.)
And I've considered what I would do if my job was magically able to switch to full time, and somehow I get the logistics figured out (like, umm, living 45 minutes away from work in Iowa, where winter travel is a concern). Of course I'd be thrilled, but what if a full time teacher-librarian position came up? Where would I rather work? (Oh this might be more fodder for another post, but I have figured out the key to knowing if a particular school will be open to collaboration with the librarian, or if they want a glorified clerk. Hint, look to the 500s.) I really don't know what I'd do. I love love LURVE my job. (And there's no way a school librarian job would pay as well as this would if I were full time. And just wait until I get my MLS.)
Okay, so anyway. Today, a woman and her husband came up to Youth Services and said, "Hablas espanol?" I said, "Hablo espanol un poco." She started to speak more, saying "internet," which I figured meant she wanted out the computer. So I said (in very bad Spanish, but I tried), "Tu quieres usar la computadora?" But she said no. I couldn't understand how she could use the internet without the computer. We kept trying to communicate (I went to the 400s and got a dictionary), to no avail. I finally decided to get her on the computer on a translation website, but she didn't have a library card so then there was figuring that out. I ended up putting it up on my computer, but then a very nice Latino man and his son came over to help out, having heard my laughable attempt at Spanish.
So we (me on computer, he on the translation) helped the couple scan something and send it (which required setting up a Google account). This took a long time, since figuring out the scanner was no easy task. Then the dad and his son came down to YS to get books. I showed them the Spanish language books upstairs, especially the children's books that have both English and Spanish. I've seen this dad several times before in the library, always helping his son get the books he wanted and encouraging him to challenge himself too. Then shortly after they left, another Latino dad came in with his child, a daughter. He wanted her to get a math book, then a historical book. I encouraged the American Girl books, but she wanted something a bit more literary, I guess, so I said, "Would you like a book with a Latina character?" She got a glint in her eye and said, "Yes!" I was hoping for Esparanza Rising but it wasn't on the shelf so we took another of her books (without a Latina character, but with a horse on the front, to which she said, "I'll take this one!").
When I came back to YS after helping them to circulation, there were several more children and families in the department. And I got a tear in my eye! It was just so touching to see families (especially dads) encouraging their children in the library. (I'd seen two dads already that morning - where were all the moms today? Sort of weird.) So to answer the question in the title, this is why I do it. I always thought it was in a school library where you can really teach kids, where you can impact children. The public library, after all, requires patrons to come to it. But here, I can help families, sometimes families who are new to America. That's what I did today. It was a great feeling.
Me thinking about how I love my job