I know. Being a librarian sounds like the perfect job. You spend all day surrounded by glorious books and handing them out to smiling youngsters. It seems all sunshine and rainbows, crisp covers and slick typefaces.
But there is a dark side to it all, a side laced with pain that few see or understand. We have small trouble cinching up our corsets and dealing calmly with a book that is lost or stealthily returned drenched in Hawaiian Punch. With composure, we daily face torn pages, younger siblings’ penmanship practice, chewing puppies, chewing younger siblings, controversial passages and other occupational hazards.
What cuts to the quick is rejection. Sometimes…they don’t like our books. Is there any sorrow like that of being rebuffed by a reader? I think not. I take it far too personally. I nearly double over when I hear, “Do you have any GOOD books?” This after I have spent 20 minutes dredging up every book I have ever known or loved to tempt a fifth-grader for his or her book report. Talk about playing to a tough audience!
I feel so powerless when my rave reviews just bounce off a student’s 21st-century, video-Internet-3-D armor. I so badly want a Vulcan mind-meld or, more realistically, a hologram I can summon with the snap of my fingers to give the young, but closed, mind a quick look at what went on in my head while I read that book. I’d be grateful if the upcoming Microsoft and Apple R&D kids make that their next project.
No, no. Don’t worry about me. In spite of this knife-in-the-heart challenge, I will persevere. It never stops me from trying again, because, in truth I am addicted. Yep — completely addicted to the brilliant thrill of finding just the right book for the right reader.
Having a youngster or a parent report to me that they “loved that book you recommended!” is sweeter than any paycheck.
I live to hear that a once-reluctant reader now would rather read than eat. It makes me want to jump up, hug somebody and do my happy dance. My apologies to the cook.
Jean Gillette is a freelance writer serving up delicious reads. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.