Most people intuitively understand the emotional load taken on by professions like social workers, nurses, 911 operators, and teachers. Rarely, however, do people consider the emotional labor of librarians. Spend a day at the service desk of a busy library and you’ll see people on their best and, too often, their worst days. Spend a few months and you’ll begin to follow the lives of your repeat visitors — you’ll be privy to, and sometimes help them solve, life’s hardest problems.
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There’s plenty of good, too, though. You get to see cute three-foot tall 2nd graders grow into furtive gangly young adult giants, seemingly overnight. You hear about (and sometimes get invited to) weddings, bar mitzvahs, and other important life rituals. And throughout all of that, you keep up a running dialogue about books, movies, vacations, life! You feed the curiosity of your community, and if you’re around long enough, they come back and tell you about your influence!
There were a few librarians that saw me grow up. I don’t know all of their names, but I remember their faces, and recall the joy with which they served. Ours wasn’t a large library, it was just a small branch library in a neighborhood. But a child isn’t very big either, so I was never at a loss for something to read.
It was Senior Librarian Hannah Kramer that put me on the path to becoming a librarian. She was kind, and paid attention to all of the kids. As I grew into my teenage years, she didn’t tell me how to be a yea-saying librarian, she exemplified it every day. Only later did I learn how hard she fought to establish a Russian literature collection for our community of Soviet refugees. It should be noted that Hannah did not read a word of Russian, but like a perceptive librarian, she noticed highly literate immigrant parents bringing their kids to the library and recognized a need. Thanks to Hannah, my father could relax a little after his 12-hour workdays, reading before bed.
Link to the rest at Medium