Let’s Do Lunch at the Library

Most Saturdays you can find me hanging out at my local library over the lunch hour.  While it’s true I do devour books, I curb my appetite so that my favorite hard-working librarians can grab a bite to eat and catch up on their reading.  I’ve been volunteering for four or five years now and I look forward to those two or three hours spent helping patrons find their next great book or movie.

Today, within five minutes of getting started at the circulation desk for the first half of my shift, a mother and a cute girl with a rainbow of flowers in her hair arrived to collect her gift basket.  The girl had won one the baking basket, one of eight gift baskets donated as prizes for the winter reading program.  I overheard one of the librarians mention that collectively adults and children read over two thousand books this winter.  I only contributed twenty-two to that total.

Immediately following the gift basket retrieval, a patron arrived because she had received an email asking her to verify her address, email address and phone number.  I assisted her in that endeavor and at her request updated her email address to a more current one.

Another two patrons arrived, dropping off movies and books to be checked in, but none of them had holds.  Most of the movies needed to be flagged for the courier to deliver to their home libraries in the North East Kansas Library System (NEKLS).  I printed the delivery slips and placed them in the appropriate bins.

A second patron arrived to collect gift basket number 1 and obliged the librarian in allowing her photograph to be taken for the library’s website.  Another patron stopped by and reviewed the new releases in movies, placed several on hold and found two to checkout from the shelves.

A library board member dropped off some donations including books, CDs, movies and craft books.  She visited with us for several minutes while we sorted through the donations and wished her well in the new year.  Meanwhile, another patron arrived to retrieve her book that was waiting on the hold shelf.

All this activity and I’ve only been at the circulation desk for thirty minutes!  Saturdays at the library are rarely boring.

During a brief break, the librarian asked me if I’d run the hold list and I asked her to print it (the only printer I was setup for was the slip receipt printer).  Report in hand, I hit the shelves to pull the items to fulfill our patron’s hold requests.

Ten minutes later I’d retrieved a nonfiction book from section 613, the sixth season of a television season (five DVDs), a children’s adventure book from the stacks and I had a bit of a time tracking down Tom Sawyer in audiobook.  I couldn’t find it with all the other audiobooks back behind the desk.  I asked for directions and found young children’s audiobooks sandwiched between the children’s movies and the adult movies (not those types of adult movies … shame on you).  I came back to the circulation desk and asked for more directions.  Finally, I found Tom tucked next to his print edition back in the stacks.  I printed the delivery receipts and placed them in the bins for their respective patron’s libraries.

A young woman showed up while I was wondering around chasing after Tom Sawyer.  She didn’t stop to at the front desk.  She didn’t commandeer one of our eight computers.  She chose the high top table and chair by a south window to enjoy the winter sun and the free wifi.  She’s resting her head on her purse and gazing into her cell phone like a contented cat soaking up the warmth in a pool of sunshine.

A mother and her young daughter have arrived.  While the daughter searches through the children’s books and movies, her mother browses the Friends of the Library book nook where she can buy hardcovers, paperbacks, movies, music CDs, magazines, coloring books and even puzzles for a few coins or a couple of bucks.

Another patron selected four movies for the weekend (or the week) including The Sound of Music and Les Misérables.  She mentioned that a remake of The Sound of Music had been released and we both agreed that nothing could improve upon the perfection of Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer from the mid 60s.

It’s noon now and I had to switch computers and login.  Turns out the cat-like teenager was attached tenuously to the mother/daughter duo I mentioned earlier.  She needed help locating a book by Sarah Maas (no relation to myself of course) called The Throne of Glass, first in the series of the same name.  Since I was between computers, I walked her to the young adult fiction section of the stacks where the book was waiting for her eager hands on the top shelf.

A father and his two sons arrived and requested an application for a library card for his son.  The other librarian asked if they had any other cards with local libraries (because NEKLS includes nearly forty libraries across northeastern Kansas and all library cards work anywhere in that region).  They did not so she also explained that an adult (the parent or guardian) was required to also sign up for a card and had to be connected to the minor children’s cards in the library system.  The father agreed and the librarian handed over the applications and a couple of pens.

Meanwhile, the previous librarian gave me a task before she left on her lunch.  The donations received from one of the patrons includes several pristine print editions of books on our shelves.  My mission is to locate the library’s copy and if the donated book is in better condition, deliver both to the librarian on duty for cataloging.

Mission accomplished and none of the donated books where in better shape than their shelved counterparts so I transferred all the donations to the Friend of the Library staging area for the Book Nook.

Now I can checkout my hold, the movie (remake) of The Predator.  I recently rewatched the original which held up surprisingly well considering it was made in the 80s.  I reviewed all new movie and television series released since January last year for any likely candidates for my holds list, but didn’t find anything new and exciting.

An older patron brought in a couple of books and audiobooks and expressed concern with getting logged into her library account and placing holds.  The circulation librarian asked questions and gave her some pointers but I had to answer the phone when it started ringing.

A patron was calling to check on when her ILLs (Interlibrary Loans) were due.  She said and spelled her last name for me three or four times but I could not find her in the Patrons section of the library system until after I’d taken a message for the ILL librarian (who won’t be back until Monday).  I was finally able to pull up her account and none of her loans are due until the 10th, a full five days from now.  I felt bad that I couldn’t reassure her before we ended our conversation.

Meanwhile, my husband is texting me about one of our dying vehicles.  He had put the code reader on it and discovered misfires on cylinder 2 but also a very low battery so he put it on the charger.  We might need to replace both the battery and the plugs but we really don’t want to dump any more money into this car.  We’ve grown to hate it over the last couple of years and just want it gone at this point.  We’d rather spend money on the other car, a 1999 Firebird Formula, even though at our age it’s not such a fun ride anymore and increasingly difficult to climb up out of it.

I’m down to the last ten minutes of my shift.  As usual, it’s been an interesting couple of hours behind the circulation desk.  But the unusually warm winter sunlight is beckoning me and I know a couple of cooped up Rottweilers who could really use a mid-afternoon walk instead of their usual nap.

Postcard from a Patron received last Summer