Feb 15, 2013

Volunteering at the Westfield Athenaeum.

My love of libraries and books started when I was teeny tiny. There is no disputing this fact. I vividly remember organizing my books on my bookshelf in my room by height. It always frustrated me that I could not have them organized by height and alphabetically at the same time....sigh, just. not. possible. I loved making library cards for my books so I could write names on them of people who do not exist but yet somehow checked out books from my library that happened to be on my bookshelf in my room. I think I am the only person on the planet that misses the old practice of stamping the books with the date to return them more than anything in the world.

About a year ago someone mentioned the idea of volunteering to me as a possibility of a smallish step towards recovering from the middle of a lovely life muddle. The idea stuck in my head and it took some time but I finally worked up my courage to ask for a volunteer application at the boys and girls library in our public library in town. I brought the nice,smooth application home ever so carefully and I filled it out in my very best handwriting with my favorite pen. I worried over parts of the application that I was not able to clearly answer due to my extreme lack of experience. I worried excessively about that lack of experience thing. The finished application sat nice and neat on the counter by our phone for quite awhile then it migrated to my nightstand in my room. Then it moved to the kitchen table, it even spent some time in the front seat and the back seat of my car. Needless to say the nice, neat, perfectly written application now had some gucky spots on it from its journeys.I finally tossed it. Yeah, can you say lack of courage? Lack of confidence? Lack of....well you know just lots of lack. I was greatly disappointed in myself and my lack. The days continued to plug on some better than others and whenever there were down days without any progress or monumental breakthroughs the thought would again come to my mind about how I really needed to volunteer. I finally went and got another application...filled it out ...and immediately turned it in just like that...easy peasy japanesy. I have no idea why this is how I roll but it is. I seem to always need practice runs :) Everyone on the planet wishes it took me as long to open my mouth to say what I am feeling as it did for me to act on volunteering :)

About a week later after they CORI checked me and made sure I had never been in jail the head of the children's department at the library called me and asked me if I could start volunteering that week. I was SO excited. Our library is in the very center of our town. It is an old, elegant building with a ton of character. High ceilings, creaking radiator sounds in the cold months, lots of levels, murals on the walls, old paintings, tall windows, long drapes. I truly love it.

On my first day of volunteering I got handed a list of books that were award winners, some stickers that proclaimed award winner on them, and a roll of clear stickers to put over the top of the award sticker to insure it would never come off. I spent the first three times I went volunteering to the library finding out first if the library even owned the award winning book, then finding the book, and lastly putting the stickers on the spine of the book. I adored every minute of this process. I loved getting to know where things were. I loved learning something new, I loved re-discovering books that I had read years ago but forgotten and even better was adding books to my, "I have to read this right now" list.

 Since I started volunteering the first week of January  I have settled into a very cozy volunteer routine. I go in at least twice a week usually on Tuesday and Thursday from 9 to 12.

Sometimes I get to search for books that have been declared lost or missing. I love doing this it is like a treasure hunt and I am so thrilled when I find a missing or lost book which I often do :)

 Sometimes the librarians ask me to help make their crafts for the story times they conduct during the week. This part makes me a little more nervous because it often involves the Ellison machine or the laminating machine. The Ellison fascinates me now that it and I have an understanding and I am over my Ellison machine fear. At least 50 wooden blocks sit on little shelves on the wall by the Ellison, all different shapes, letters, numbers and much more are on the blocks. You choose the shape you want, you lay your paper under the press and set the block on top of the paper, then you pull the handle and it presses the blade on the bottom of the block into the paper and voila you have punched out a shape. I really need one of these machines in my house :) I think the latest version of Ellison is a Cricut machine. But I love the old fashioned and it works very well with no trace of a sassy computer like attitude.

The laminating machine should not scare me but it does a little. I like to do things exactly right and that is harder to do the first few times you laminate as you get used to where the right temperature is and how fast to put down the items you are laminating :)

Sometimes I get to go upstairs to the young adult section and search for books.

Sometimes I get a list of all the books that have not been checked out in a long time, I get to go find them and load them all on a cart and take them to the librarian so she can decide which ones stay in the library and which ones go to the book sale. I feel so sad about all those books that never got checked out. A lot of them looked very interesting to me. I mean who would not want to know all about the inventor of crayons...Mr. Binney? It made me wonder about how much kids even read books these days.

I can't help but enjoy observing different moms and dads with their kids in the library. All sorts of fun conversations are overheard by me :)

I honestly could do this everyday. The librarians are all very nice and I am slowly figuring them and their relationships with each other. I love feeling part of something. They have already asked me if I will help with the huge library book sale which is in April and that is like asking me if I want to go to Disneyland. I was SO excited and can not wait until it is time to organize all those books for the sale.

This is a teeny tiny step towards my future. I seem to move slowly when it comes to some things. But I am thrilled this worked out and I can not begin to tell you how much I needed this library volunteer gig :)

1 comment:

C Tam said...

I'm so happy for you! I too loved organizing my books as a wee girl. I remember lovingly sorting them into a rainbow--I put each on the shelf in order of hue, starting with the reds and ending with the purples, blacks, grays... My collection of boxcar children books, Laura Ingalls Wilder titles, etc. all ended up mixed among each other. But it looked beautiful.