I went to the library today
*Technically I wrote this Saturday. But I needed to post THIS on Saturday, just getting around to posting this one.
I went to the library today. Not in the way I go to the library every other day. Not to work 8+ hours, not to check things off a to-do list, and not even to visit fellow librarian friends.
I went to the library today as just a library patron, just a mother, and just a fan of super hero parties.
I went to the library today and realized there are many other mothers who use the library and also happen to like super hero parties. And fathers. And grandparents. And hundreds of other people who came to the library for the very same reason I did.
It was packed. I like to describe this situation as the best problem a library can have. We should want to be running around to find resources, running around to make space, and running around to frantically cut out more super hero shields. It means we are loved. This library was very loved today.
I made myself remove my librarian glasses and just take in the library. I pretended not to lose my breath when I saw the giant bottles of unattended glitter that I knew were going to end up spilled all over the carpet. I pretended not to know the answer when I heard someone ask a question about the computers or checkout limits. And when the glitter did make its way onto the floor, I didn’t even rush to find a vacuum.
When I looked at the library from this remote distance and state of mind, this is what I saw.
I saw library staff members, clearly not intended to help with the program, filling in wherever they were needed. Even if that meant supervising tables full of children who were accidentally given permanent markers. I saw their willingness to help, their eagerness to please, and their adaptability to any situation.
I saw my doctor walk in the front door with her two children in tow who I have never met. This woman who has seen me through two pregnancies, delivered both of my children, felt every part of my body for 8 years and counting, made me scream, made me cry, made me thankful for her compassion, her wisdom, her honesty and her true gift of medicine. This woman that I trust with my health and the health of my children and I had never even laid eyes on her family before. There she was with her kids and there I was with my kids, and there my kids were hugging her and it was OK because she wasn’t at work and didn’t approach us and I just wanted to tell her that she seemed so much more real to me now.
I saw a college classmate that I hadn’t seen in years. Our eyes met and we both looked down. They met again and we darted them downward a second time. Finally she spoke first with “I know I know you.” We both laughed and eventually figured it out. Our kids passed bottles of glue and black markers that colored more purple than black while we caught up, held coats, and cut string.
I saw a Chinese American family, shaky with English, who kept to themselves and had their young son translate. I watched as a young refugee child, presumably from Eastern Africa, wandered over and started pouring glitter all over the table (see, I knew that glitter was going to be trouble.) The mother seemed nervous and unsure, but she gently placed her hand on the young child’s hand and said softly “no no.”
I saw families who had never met before talking about super hero costumes, loose teeth, and where to find the super replenishing treats.
I saw people giving up their chairs for strangers, helping lost children find their parents, and listening to stories from their community they never knew existed.
I saw people genuinely, comfortably, and purposefully interacting with other people of all ages, all colors of skin, with different languages from all different life situations.
I saw the library for what it really is, and I thought to myself where else would all of this happen?
I went to the library today and I’m so glad that I did.