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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Book Solution

A couple of weeks ago I vague-tweeted this: 

In the interest of being non-vague, here's the backstory:

I was walking through the children's room on my way to a desk shift on the first floor when I saw a young girl crying in the middle of the room. A boy (only slightly older than the girl) was talking to her and patting her back, trying to comfort her. Naturally, I stopped and asked if she was okay. 
The boy said "She's crying because her dad said she couldn't check out any books." The girl nodded, still crying.
Well. There's ONE way to break my heart.
Then one of their friends who had wandered over said "Yeah, he doesn't  even like to take her to the library."
 Aaaaand there's ANOTHER way to break it.

I didn't ask the girl why her dad doesn't like to take her to the library or to let her check out books. The reasons didn't concern me directly, and I didn't want to put her on the spot. The fact that this was her truth, however, made me very sad. My entire life would be completely different today if my parents had not taken me to the library on a frequent basis when I was a kid - I wouldn't love books as much as I do now (or at least I wouldn't have been as voracious a reader back then without access to library books), I wouldn't have had a place where I felt completely welcome (besides home - school wasn't exactly my happy place), I wouldn't have gotten my first job at the library and ended up a librarian today. I'm sure of these things.

So I did what small thing I could do in that moment to try and let the kid know that the library will always be there for her, even if she can't always get to it when she wants to. I showed the group of about four kids (the girl and her kind friends) where we keep our free summer giveaway books (a precious commodity these days, to be sure) and let them each take one free book. 

The girl stopped crying and started beaming. She (and her father) wouldn't have to worry about late fees, she wouldn't have to stress about returning the book, she could just keep it and read it and love it and want to read more. At least I hope so. And I hope that she'll keep finding her way to the library.

I don't know if the book solution was the best solution, but sometimes it's the only solution I have.



  1. I think you did the right thing. When I had students whose parents wouldn't let them check out books, I made it a point to tell students they are always welcome to read in the library without checking a book out. Thanks for sharing the story.

  2. I tell them that too! Thanks for reading! :)

  3. Ooo *wibble*

    You're truly a superhero librarian :)