If you Like my Facebook page, you may have seen this. Or not, given the way FB hides things from feeds. If you haven’t Liked my page, please consider doing so by clicking here!
My first “real” job was in a library. I found shelving books to be soothing but much preferred to do it when the library was closed so I could focus and be left alone, unpestered. Because part of the fun was sometimes stopping to thumb through the books. Not the ones that got checked out over and over again, though I did look at some of those and wonder what made them so popular. (Where I worked it was always Ed McBain…) But I really enjoyed finding random treasures, books I would never have otherwise known existed.
In the far left corner of our library were paperbacks. These had been donated by patrons and you didn’t have to check them out, you could just take them. For years I had a collection of paperbacks with orange dots on the spines that had “F” for fiction or “M” for mystery or whatever on them. I might still have them in a box somewhere…
While working at the public library, I discovered Agatha Christie. I smuggled out battered paperback versions of things I was pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to read. Or maybe I just liked to pretend I might get in trouble; that made it more exciting.
The children’s area was the worst, of course. Always a mess, felt like Sisyphus trying to clean that up. But there were plenty of times I would sit between the bookcases with a book open on my lap, engrossed and having forgotten where I was and what I was supposed to be doing. Sometimes toddlers would come over and just start climbing on me. The parents were often apologetic, if/when they were paying any attention at all, but I didn’t mind. Kids (and animals) have always liked me, dunno why.
I got a weird satisfaction, too, from shifting the stacks. If you don’t know what that means, it’s when a shelf gets too full and—usually because you want to keep an author on one shelf or a series together or something—you have to move stuff down in a kind of cascade effect. Most people find it a pain, but I sort of liked it.
I didn’t have my library job for very long. I’d only gotten it in order to earn money for driver’s ed. Once I was able to drive, I got a “better” job at the mall. I did really like the library, but we had some librarians who were… let’s just say “difficult to work with.” But now I find myself volunteering in my kids’ school library each week. And the other day I started shifting some stacks and was—just for a minute or two—weirdly content.