Saturday, July 7, 2012

librarian at heart

I am a librarian at heart.  One of my greatest pleasures is helping people find a book they will like, lending it to them, and hearing that they liked it.  Unfortunately, I am also a collector at heart, and I like being able to read and enjoy my books now and in the future, which requires that I take very good care of them.  Other people do not take such care, and some do not understand why anyone would.  And so my two natures are at constant war within me.  I want to lend, but I am heartbroken when a mass market that is no longer in print comes back to me with a broken spine or full of sand (windy day on the beach during vacation) or bent and creased or scribbled in or chewed on or full of cat hairs.  I want to lend but only to those who understand the sacred duty of the borrower to return the book quite unharmed and in the same shape it was received.  I want to lend, but, but, but . . . 

For some reason, just telling someone about a book and hearing later that they read and liked it is not the same.  It's not nearly as satisfying as going through my own shelves and searching for something that person will enjoy reading.  But that feeling when I get a book back damaged or smelling of cabbage . . .

The end result is that I often feel useless, like a librarian at a library no one ever goes to.  Which is kind of accurate because my home is a library (the whole kitchen and a good chunk of the living room is taken over by bookcases), it is small enough to make people feel claustrophobic, and I am antisocial besides.  At least I'm aware that I'm doing it to myself.

I worked at a library once as a page shelving and alphabetizing books in bliss and happiness.  I wonder if I would have been less blissful and more shocked and appalled to be a regular librarian checking in all the returns and seeing the horrible thing people did to my books.  So maybe I'm not a librarian at heart . . .  Should that make me feel better?


  1. 1. Sorry about the cat hairs.
    2. I don't think I've been responsible for any cabbage smells.
    3. How much do you care about having books returned with the paper fairy's work intact? I try, really, I do.
    4. The fourth Michelle West book may be coming back to you a little more dog-eared than usual. I apologize for this.

  2. 1. Oddly enough, I don't think the cat hairs are you. : )

    2. Nor the cabbage.

    3. Honestly? Just the ones marked at the bottom of the page, but I try to get those written out before I lend to you because they're also the hardest to keep in when reading. ( :

    4. This may be snobby of me, but when I buy something cheap and used, and it's still in print, I am less inclined to weep over it when it becomes more used. And more inclined to lend it. : )

    Thank you for helping me feel purposeful, faithful borrower! ( :