things i heard at the library: an occasional series: # 3

"What are you doing?"

"Putting books away."

"Why are you doing that?"

"So people can find them later."

"Do you have any books about fishing?"

"Books on fishing... let's see. Oh look, here's one with Winnie the Pooh fishing."

"I put that there!"

"You did?"

"I did! I put that there!"

"Conor, leave the lady alone. Conor, come over here and play. Conor..."

A few minutes later...

"What are you doing? Why are you doing that? Do you have any books about fishing?"

"Conor, leave her alone so she can do her job."

"No, that's ok, he's not bothering me."

Conor is a toddler. He was at the library with his dad. Conor asked questions in a rapid staccato that just cracked me up.

* * * *

I rode in the elevator with a mom and her pre-teen daughter. The library has big plastic baskets on wheels, like a luggage cart, and they had one filled to the brim with books. I said hi, commented on all the books they had.

Mom said, "She's gone from not being a very good reader, not interested in books, to a super reader, loves books, reads all the time."

I said that was terrific and asked the girl if she had a favourite author.

"Dr. Seuss."

"Excellent choice." She seemed a little old for Dr. Seuss, but if she had been a struggling or reluctant reader, that would make sense.

I asked where else in the library they were going, since they were headed up, not out.

Mom said, "We're just exploring. We're going to the top, then we'll walk our way down."

A bit later, I saw them in the children's department again. The girl was getting her Read To Succeed card stamped, and having her name added to the big wall of reading successes, a kind of reading hall of fame.

I am telling you, this girl was beaming. Her face was the image of joy and pride.

* * * *

"What are you doing? Why are you doing that? I put that book there! I fooled you!"

Conor's dad: "Sorry about this. He's very social."

"That's ok, he's fine."

Conor's dad was pretty social himself, chatting with the moms gathered around the train set. Conor's dad took Conor back to the trains. I shelved books for a while, and then...

"What are you doing?"

* * * *

"Is there a level 4?"

"Excuse me?" It was a mom.

"The easy-reader books go level 1, level 2, level 3. My son is bored with level 3, he's finding it too easy. Is there a level 4?"

"I believe after level 3 you go into the general junior's section. But let's go to the desk and ask."

I walk her over to the desk, and go back to work. Later, I see her wandering around the stacks. "Did you get the answer? Is it the junior section?"

"It is, but I don't know what books to get."

"What does he like to read? Does he like fiction - stories - or does he like to read about things, nonfiction?"

"He likes everything. You know, mummies, rocks, planets, animals. He likes everything he reads."

Do you know the SNL character Stefon (played by Bill Hader)? That's what this mom sounded like: "This boy has everything. Mummies, trucks, rocks..."

* * * *

"What are you doing?"

"Hi, Conor."

"What are you doing?"

"I'm putting books away. Conor, the library is about to close."


"Because we all have to go home and go to sleep."

"I don't want to go to sleep."

"I know. But you have to go home."


"Well, you can't stay at the library all night."

"What are you doing?"

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