Monday, April 13, 2015
Oh the Irony
This week is National Library Week. I live in the state which brought you the United States' first free public library. I also live in a state which schedules all the statewide standardized testing for 3 weeks in April. Wanna take a wild guess as to when all that begins? Yep, today. Wanna guess where the testing takes place in my schools? Yep, the library. Therefore, during National Library Week we can't have any book circulation. It's enough to make a library lady either cry or rampage. In order to soothe myself I bring you some interesting happenings in the library lately.
The kindergarteners get very excited when I come to pick them up. One little guy, who is enthusiasm embodied, shouted upon seeing me, "It's Library Girl!!!" I thought it made me sound like a superhero so I am adopting it as my new moniker. Faster than an OPAC! Able to leap tall stacks of books in a single bound. She stands for facts, information, and the literary way! It's a teacher, it's a book lover, it's Library Girl!
A student was dawdling in choosing a book after his teacher had given the countdown for finishing. He grabbed a book off the shelf and moseyed to my desk. As he arrived he announced, "I'll take this book, It's sucky, but I'll take it." Nope, we have 10,000 books here there is no reason for you to grab one you think is sucky. Go find one you actually want. He said he couldn't find one. I asked what he liked. He told me. I stuck a book in his hand. He looked at it and said, "This doesn't look like it sucks." Good, try to enjoy it. Maybe he needs to go spend some time with the kindergarteners.
I have long had a big soft spot for six year olds in glasses. I also collect Caldecott Award winning books. When a glasses sporting six year old comes to the library and asks on every visit if he can have a "reward" book* I am a complete goner.
*The first week I said I wasn't sure what he meant by "reward book" and asked if he could explain more about it. He drew circles in the air and declared, "They have gold and silver circles on the covers!" It was at the end of a long day. His little grin when I handed him Officer Buckle and Gloria totally made up for his one classmate who drove me nuts.
One little girl came up clutching a Disney book and begging, "Please, Miz Lime, can you order lots more Disney books? They're my favorites!!!" I told her that was a great idea and she ought to talk to the principal about it. Bewildered, she asked why. I explained that is because the principal decides how much money the library gets for ordering new books each year...and that it's been five years since our library had new books ordered.
Lime...disseminating information and fomenting unrest among primary students since 2012.
At the same library we have a tile floor. Judging by how long certain spills have remained untouched, the floor has not been mopped all year. Could I do it? Yes, but I spent a lot of time cleaning up after adults last year. I've asked repeatedly for people to clean up after themselves. I've been told the custodial staff is responsible. My take home pay for a full-tome job running two libraries is less than what my kid earns at a part time job serving burritos. I expend a lot of energy just keeping 22, 000 books in order. I figure if the floor looks hideous enough maybe someone will finally be compelled to do is or her job. That has proved to be unsound logic. I am now considering finding a kid with the belly bug and having him strategically barf in the library to get the floor mopped.
I have a fifth grader who has asked me for books on quantum mechanics and the works of Shakespeare. She has been so understanding when I have told her we have nothing like that. I so wish I could put something in her hands that she wants but I am encouraged that she tells me she gets to the public library where she can find these things.
One student returned a badly damaged book. In such cases I assign the fine after speaking with the student to see if there is a plausible story or any sense of responsibility or contrition. This student seemed to have both so I showed her that the cost of the book, which I could not repair was $18 and I told her I would only fine her $5. We are a very poverty stricken district. So few fines come in....ever. She sat down, thought a moment, and asked if she could still check out a new book. I reminder her that all books and fines have to be taken care of before new books can be selected.
Her: Well, my parents were going to focus on buying me stuff on Friday so I don't think they will be able to send the money in.
Me: Perhaps you could suggest they buy you $5 less "stuff" and send it in for the fine. Better yet, you could go home and ask them for some chores to do to earn the money to pay for the book.
Her: (indignantly) I don't like chores!
Me: (arching a single eyebrow and questioning my earlier sense of mercy) No one likes chores but they are a responsibility...just like that book you didn't take good care of.
It was a more professional response than what I wanted to say which was, "Then it sucks to be you."
I may be Library Girl but it takes more than Super Human strength not to burst out laughing when a first grader checks out a book about outer space and announces, "YOOOOOOUUR-anus is an AWESOME planet!"