Tuesday, June 23, 2015

No Bartleby I

I am fast approaching my 21st anniversary of library work. This means that my library clerking career itself will soon be old enough to legally drink. And I think it should. I think the library should buy my library career a very fancy cocktail everyday at about three in the afternoon.

But after 21 years (almost) the question naturally comes up; how have I (soberly) survived working with the public all these years?

My secret is that I consider everything I do (outside of showing up, which is what I am paid for) to be voluntary. If you have a picture I.D. with your current address I may be technically required to get you a library card, but I don't really see it that way. I get you a library card because that seems right and good, because of course you should have a library card, because, even though it's a bit annoying, I want to get you a library card. I issue you your new library card out of the magnanimity of my heart. My getting you a library card is an act of generosity and love, not obligation.

And lest you think I am puffing it all up, let me assure you that it is a true generosity. When I go over and help someone figure out how to print what they want to print on the computer, or get the mystery books in their proper order, or give a patron a hot tip on an old book I, deep down, have no interest in thanks. All these things are, to my mind, good enough to deserve happening. I make them happen. It is my choice and I chose yes. 

Why would I need thanks for that? If I wanted, I could just say no.

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