Friday, June 3, 2016
On Being Marian
I have progress to report on the library front. Remember the girl with the "lost" textbook? Well, she returned it the day before yesterday -- which probably means it wasn't lost at all but she couldn't be troubled to bring it in before now. I'm annoyed, but I'm glad to get it back.
And the girl with the two overdue books from January? She brought them in, too. Finally.
I should be happy with this, I suppose, but honestly I forgot how hard this time of year can be. The last month of school basically means constant nagging on my part -- reminding kids to return their books, and when that fails, e-mailing their parents and their teachers and calling home, and going to their classrooms to talk to them, and doing whatever else I can think of to get them to bring back their materials before we break for summer.
OK, so it's not heart surgery. But weirdly, it really depletes me. I find myself getting so frustrated when kids shrug off my requests day after day and week after week -- particularly if the parents shrug them off too. Because in the end, all I can do is ask. I have no control over whether they return things or not. (We don't have late fees or, really, any other leverage except freezing library accounts and ultimately billing the families -- which the school is loath to do.)
Maybe that's what I find so difficult -- the powerlessness. But it doesn't explain my emotional response. Do I feel a sense of betrayal, even a personal rejection?
I know. I'm making more of it than I should.
I understand, though, why librarians get a reputation for being so crabby. We are constantly presented with people who don't hold up their end of the bargain, and even though they're a minority, that can be dispiriting. I've been trying to breathe through it, like my Zen teachers taught me. Let it go. Keep it in perspective. Remember that it's not my stuff.
On a positive note, I've learned a lot at this job. I knew nothing about interacting with kids before I went to work in the library. Now I know more -- though I'm still not an expert. I've learned that I earn much more cooperation being as easy-going as I can (despite repressed LIBRARIAN RAGE) and I'm getting better at making friends with the kids. On Monday one girl, a graduating senior, gave me a thank-you card in which she said the library was her favorite place in the school, thanks to the librarians. That was definitely the high point of my week!
(Photo: A council estate near our flat where I often walk Olga. I did not paint that face, I swear.)