Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Librarian

When I was a Senior in High School, I had two study halls. Now when you had two study halls you could volunteer to work in the School Office. Working there you were just a glorified gopher, Go fer this, Go fer that. There were no openings, however I was told that there was an opening for a Library Assistant.

Our Librarian was a legend. Mrs. K. was an elderly woman, her short permed hair was grey, she had eyes that could pierce your soul, and some dark colored chin hairs that were accentuated when she scowled...which was often. She wore glasses, some people said she and her husband shared the same pair, she wore them during the day and he wore them at night. She wasn't very tall maybe 5' 4", she wore dresses every day usually some print, that buttoned down the front, had a lovely matching belt, and a pleated skirt that fell well below her knees. Her hose was light colored and she hadn't shaved her legs a day in her life. She always wore the old lady shoes, black, with a little bit of a heel, that laced up. She was a no nonsense, no giggling, no scuffling, no voices raised above a whisper Librarian. Far Guy says a "A nothing allowed Librarian." She was in charge of that Library, and she ran it like a kingdom and she was the Queen, and the rest of us were there because she allowed us to enter.

Now I love books, I thought about it a few days before I finally decided to give it a go as a library assistant. If worse came to worse, I could always go back to study hall. All of those books were just too much to resist. The first day, I showed up to "assist"..I was terrified..she said "So you want to help out around here?" I replied "Yes Mam, I will do what ever you want me too, I love books." She said "Well, we will see how you work out."I learned a lot that year, The Dewey Decimal System. how to properly shelve books. How to find a magazine or an article in the stacks. How to repair a book binding properly. How the Card File System worked, properly adding or subtracting the correct number of cards for the new books coming in or the old books that were leaving the Library for good.

When the kids from Study Hall would present a hall pass, Mrs. K would look at the pass and then at the clock, if more than two minutes had passed she would refuse entry into the Library. Sometimes she would come into the Stacks and talk to Mrs. M. who was a real sweetheart, she sat at a typewriter and her fingers flew over the keyboard. I talked with Mrs. M. about life, and books, she was very friendly. She could talk and type at the same time, that always impressed me.

Mrs. K was short on praise, I never knew if I was doing things up to her expectations or not. If she wasn't scowling it must have been a good day. I finally did get a hug from her on Graduation Day:)

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