This post by the Rambling Librarian made me think about what I do, again. Today was a short day actually. I got up, swapped some email with my boss ["Why won't the sysadmin lady give you speakers for the computers for the evening spanish class?" " I don't KNOW, can you help?" "Probably, sure, let's look at it tomorrow."] did a bit of work on a library website I’m helping design, and then got in the car.
I drove about 35 miles to one of the libraries I work with. I steppped in and said hi to the librarian who was busy putting book covers on books. She is a solo librarian except for a few hours on Saturday when a volunteer comes in to staff the desk. I go there every other week for two hours and answer computer questions for her. Today she was curious about how to make flyers using Word, how to clear her history on her browser, and she gave me some advice on books to read for my upcoming trip. She was worried she had read my email when she came across my blog in her list of addresses in her address bar of her browser. Teaching moment: what is a blog?
A patron came in and had a document he needed to attach to an email and we all gathered around the pretty new fax/scanner/printer they had bought and learned to use it to scan and save a document. He was sending it to Japan and said he prefers email to fax because if he emails in the middle of the night, it won’t wake people up. He thanked me for my help and helped the librarian change the light bulbs that she couldn’t reach. A girl came in who had to do community service and wanted to know if she could do it at the library. She says she hangs out there all the time because the kids at school are mean to her and trip her in the halls and the library is peaceful and quiet. She asked me about the vocational school I work at and how long it would be before she’d be able to go there [ten months, probably]. She asked if people were mean to me in school, after noticing my deadlocks and nose ring and I said “All the time, but it got better.” She wants to go to Harvard Law School eventually, or run a no-kill animal shelter. I told her there are some good books on bullying and said yes, her grandmother’s advice to “Just ignore them” while well-meant, might not solve her problems. I checked out one book for myself and bought three more from the booksale and headed on.
Another 20 miles got me to the next library where a cheerful volunteer and two librarians asked me to take off my shoes and gave me a set of slippers for the duration of my stay. They showed me around their newly renovated library. They had gotten people in the community to build custom cabinets for their Gates Computers where the four desktop machines share dial-up via a LAN. I asked them if they used WebJunction and they said they though it was hard to use, so they mostly muddled through on their own, or used Google for tech support questions. I showed them how to lay out a three column flyer that they were printing up for new community members. It had information like where the dump is, how to get medical care, and who to talk about the historical society. We scanned a postcard with a picture of the local covered bridge to put on the cover when all the entries are done. I got a library card there too. When I checked out a book, I cannot tell a lie gentle reader, I wrote my name on the library card and handed it to the redheaded librarian.