What would a world without libraries look like? We’ve got the top 10 responses from Brooklyn kids.
But the joy of a library book sale is tainted and soon as I hear the first tell-tale beep of a scanner browsing through the social science section for gently used textbooks to sell. My blood pressure goes up measurably when I walk by a guy (they’re almost always guys) crouched down by a few cardboard boxes, sorting out a stack of books into buy and abandon piles. As I peruse the tables, I give any book scanners the biggest and most obvious stink eye I can because, my gosh, that sort of capitalist behavior is totally against the spirit of what a library book sale is. It’s practically sacrilegious.
So, is it just plain sloppiness, or is it actually a matter of teacher support lacking in schools? (Or maybe a little of both?) I don’t think there are any easy answers. I DO think it’s a discussion worth having, but not in the finger-pointy way that the media has done it in this case. As I’ve learned by working with kids, shame is not an educational tool. I am personally going to try to do better in my own small way – instead of rolling my eyes and muttering under my breath when I encounter a reading list that contains a reference to something like “20,000 Leagues Under the Water by Jules Verne” (a kid actually DID ask for this once, although in all honesty I don’t think it was the fault of his teacher), I’m going to simply correct it and make sure the kid gets the right book he needs. That’s what librarians are there for, after all. And, in a larger sense, I hope that schools and libraries start working more closely together to do what’s best for the students. We’re all working towards the same goal, in the end.
I don’t feel like it’s overstating to say that the 30 minutes of library story time three times a week helped me maintain my sanity for those first six months of motherhood. It was a perfect storm of understanding librarians, mothers (and sometimes fathers, FTW) who were just as interested in literacy as I am, and a closed-off story room where I could wear something close to pajamas and let the boys crawl around without worrying they were going to put tree bark in their mouth. At a time when I could barely remember my last name, it re-focused me on the thing that has been my touchstone for my whole life, and what I hope will be one for my children: books.