I’ve held a variety of jobs in my life, but none that I could consider even remotely dangerous. The closest I can recall was when my sister and I both worked at a pear packing plant one summer as teenagers. My sister, whose job was to fill boxes with pears, broke her arm when she tried to remove a wad of tape that got stuck to the metal rollers after a box slid by. My job was far less dangerous. I sat at a tiny table for hours at a time, marking a hash tag in the correct weight column each time a box full of pears rolled by. Not exactly harrowing work.
By far, my favorite job was working at the college library when I was earning my English degree. Had they asked, I probably would have worked there for free. I loved roaming the stacks, shelving books, straightening rows, and picking up loose books and magazines people abandoned on the tables or in the study areas. During the time I was there, the only crimes I recall were someone stealing a woman’s engagement ring after she left it on a table and wandered off to look for a book and a man racing through the alarm system with some naughty books he’d somehow grabbed from the restricted area. Again, not exactly high crimes, though they did cause quite a stir among us employees.
Those library days are long behind me, but I get to relive them once a week at my sons’ school. At the start of the year, the first grade teacher requested a parent helper for the weekly trips to the school library, and I immediately rose my hand. For those thirty minutes every Friday afternoon, I get to shelve books and help the kids check out their selections. I love the looks of wonder and excitement on their young faces when they discover a book they never knew existed or find a new book that involves a favorite character.
Once their books are checked out, most of the kids sit down at the long table in the middle of the library and start reading while a few stragglers finish finding a book to check out. The only sounds I hear are when a child wants to tell a classmate about a particularly good picture or read them a funny sentence.
Watching those kids become so absorbed in their books, I know I’m looking at another generation of readers. Long live libraries!