Mean Old Library Lady
I am not as mean as I look, but keep in mind, I can look really mean. Seriously, I have watched people literally pull their head backward in reaction to a look I gave them. Most of the time I am weirdly proud of this attribute, but if you really know me, I mean deep down know me, you know it makes me sad to upset people. I had to word that just right, I had originally put that it makes me sad when people steer clear of me. Well, I am not bubbly, I am also socially awkward and I sure don’t want anyone reading this thinking that need to approach me every time they see me, you know with the intent for me not to be sad. Treat me like a cat, you can nod at me, but pets and affection are never guaranteed safe, I probably won’t claw you, but I might run away.
With all that garbage I just spewed we can finally get to the meat of this bookworm. Librarians can have certain reputations, today I am specifically referring to the mean, grouchy, shushing one. I have had 2 major jobs in my adult life; teacher and now librarian. Pretty cool, ironic, or just plain fate that both of those occupations sometimes share “mean” as an applied adjective. My “look” and voice often hinted at an inherit meanness which came in handy with discipline and control. Although I never wanted to be known as a teacher that let anything happen, I also didn’t want to be known as the mean teacher, I preferred ordered and fair. I still feel that way.
Yesterday I had to deal with an issue, that honestly just left me feeling like a jerk. Sometimes you have to be mean.
I wish I had a record of how many times I wrote up students up in my 16 years of teaching, I want to say the number was pretty low. The look and voice took care of most issues and I specifically remember giving kids a detention with me as punishment (California High School) vs. allowing the principal take care of the problem. Not only did I want full responsibility of the actions of my students, I didn’t want the conflict to permanently scar our relationship. The detentions always led to a few moments of real interaction and time for wounds to be healed.
The library is my responsibility, duh, I am the director. There needs to be order and the collection needs protection, sometimes we (I) have to be mean. I had a young patron that needed to be “wrote up”. Yep, I was the mean old library lady. No, I didn’t literally write them up, well, I did document it, but I really just wanted to speak with the parents to resolve the issue and hopefully move on…that was 2 years ago. Yesterday, I sent that same kid home, 2 years and I still have yet to meet with the parents (the ball is in their court). Yes, boo me, I booed myself. I want the library for everyone, heck, I can be quoted saying that in last week’s bookworm.
I want a learning moment, a chance to resolve the conflict, a personal detention to clear out issues and to move forward. I want all kids to feel wanted here, but again, the library is my responsibility. So, yep, sometimes I am the mean old library lady. I call you when you are overdue, I send you postcards and letters (sometimes you even get one from the prosecuting attorney), I don’t let you checkout items, and sometimes I make you leave. I don’t want our relationship to be severed, but, again, the library is my responsibility.
We never charge late fees (only letter fees at a max of $3), that letter from the PA is only a gentle reminder, we do not prosecute, yep, you cannot checkout items if you have items that you have yet to return or have damaged and not taken care of, and even though I sometimes ask you to leave, I sure don’t want it to be forever.
Yesterday really threw me for a loop, it made me feel yucky and I just really hope those parents come in so we can go forward. I am so sorry, kiddo, I really do want you to be here.
Upcoming Events: 12/29 Story Time at 10am, 12/31 and 1/1 CLOSED, 1/4 Book Club at 6:30pm. The Young Adult Reading Challenge has started (Adults can participate), swing by the library for more information.