Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tales from the Library

For those of you who haven't been stalking me lately, I've started to volunteer at the library two days a week, shelving books. It's a great way to spend 2 hours a day, although that goes really quickly when you're trying to shelve a cartful of children's literature. Kids' books are always first priority because they're the library's most popular item and there's almost always a lot of them to re-shelve.

Of course, when working anywhere there are people, there will be fun stories. Today I found a lot of interesting bits in books. Someone left a note saying "hi" on one of the shelves upstairs, for starters. Not terribly exciting, but there's always the little mystery of who left the mundane notes one finds, and for whom?

In the children's cart I didn't find much of interest other than a book that was mildly sticky (watermelon and books don't get along) and two falling out of their bindings (promptly handed over to be fixed. The poor books!). The adult section was full of wonders today, though. I found no less than 5 checkout slips (they're printed out every time you take out a book or pay a fine, as a reciept and to remind you when it's due, since our library doesn't use a card system any more). The slips have the library user's full name, the date and a list of their currently checked out works... paper trails that make it easy for a finder to make up stories about why they checked out that particular series of books. One girl had checked out the same book I just returned - Three Cups of Tea. I also found, in a time management book, someone's printed weekly schedule and handwritten notes regarding mailing out cards. Looks like the book wasn't as useful as they hoped, since they must have been in a hurry to return it!

The best find, though, was an envelope which fell out of the back of one of the nonfiction books. It said "Sorry, Dad was in the hospital. Hope this covers the fee!". It was a mundane enough task to report it to the desk after a brief period of wonderment that someone would be so considerate as to put their late fee in an envelope before using the night drop box, (and that the librarians had missed it - apparently they don't check the books before putting them on the carts). Still, it was a neat sense of mystery to have to look up the nameless patron who had last checked it out and make sure that his late fee was labeled with his name so that the librarians could absolve him of the crime of returning a book late (one I often commit, I am ashamed to say). It was also a touching reminder that library patrons are not nameless and faceless, despite the fact that as shelvers we are far removed from the act of choosing the book or returning it and will likely never know who took out Jane Austen's complete works. I really hope that patron's dad is ok.

So overall, it was an interesting day at the library. I really like it there.

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