I don’t think the librarians at my branch of Wake County Public Libraries got the message: the library is not a mausoleum. It’s actually for the living, and it should really be full of highly imaginative, thoughtful, interesting, engaging, knowledgeable staff. Instead, mine are dull, boring, quiet, standoffish, pinched looking, and generally not enthusiastic. What a bummer.
For the last three months, my son has had math tutoring on Monday and Wednesday afternoons and I’ve hung out at the library during those hours. It’s probably more concentrated time I’ve spent here than since finishing college … but it’s given me a good perspective in the dull. When I was a kid, we couldn’t afford our own personal set of Encyclopedia Britannica’s, so I did all of my reports at the library. My mother would take me every other Saturday morning and get 14 or 15 romance paperbacks, and I’d get a couple of Judy Blume’s. Reading’s in my blood, and the legions of books and stories and ideas in the library are one of the biggest influences for my becoming a writer. Though I’ve only been a published romance author for a year now, my first job out of college was as a writer, and I’ve never looked back.
So you can imagine my surprise to come into these hallowed halls, with computer in tow and iPod charged … to watch the bland keepers of the words just sitting like bumps on logs. Clearly I’m generalizing, but not too much. They stare out at patrons with uninterested eyes, rolling them when mothers come in with armfuls of books and a couple of kids clinging to their waistbands; they’re irritated to have to get off the stool to walk you down the aisle; and they take quiet to painful extremes. Did you ever see the comedy, The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag? Did you ever read one of my favorite books of all time, Open Season by Linda Howard?
I’m waiting on my local librarians, or media specialists, or whatever the current term is, to have their eureka moment. Come on … the books contained within the four walls where you work are full of mystery and intrigue, facts and tragedies, scientific and mathematical equations, sex and scandal. Wake up! Engage these kids who come in and walk around aimlessly or go straight to the computer to play Angry Birds. The library is for the living; it’s not a mausoleum.