Saturday, October 10, 2015

Panic At the Children's Desk

After more than ten years at the Germantown Community Library, I made the craziest leap of my career and accepted a position as a Youth Services Library Associate.  Yeah, it was a surprise to me too, since I'd promised myself that I would never cross the maroon carpet into the Children's Department.

For the most part, working in the Children's Department has been a pretty good fit; there were the normal bumps and grumbles as staff tried to accommodate a new person into an already cohesive team, I've had more than my fair share of freaking out while trying to catch up on everything I'm not familiar with, and it's been stressful in entirely new ways to be working with young people day in and day out.

Here are just a few of the crazy days that I've had since joining the "Collective."  (points to anyone who recognizes that reference)

One afternoon, I was the only staff person working at the Youth Services desk and I am embarrassed to admit that I panicked a little when six children all wanted to play with a different LEGO set (and then wanted to trade it for a different set moments later) and another handful of kids were asking for scissors, tape, and coloring pages.  While I couldn't find the kid-safe scissors, we took Mom a pair of adult-scissors and found her to be happily surprised that her little girl "still needed her for something."  I never did find the coloring pages with the "house on it" for another little girl.

Overall, it was the most stressful hour and a half I've had so far as a Youth Services Library Associate, but it was also one of the most fun (in the strangest of ways).  I was able to provide most of my patrons / customers with what they were looking for or something similar, the Teen Volunteer assigned to work the Summer Reading Desk was an invaluable source of support, and ultimately I found a home for all of the LEGO pieces that had lost their sets.  :-P

Another encounter involved a young boy (maybe two or three) who was slamming a sign down again and again on the LEGO table.  We had just recently had one of those sign holders break and shatter into extremely sharp pieces that I cut my finger on and I didn't want him to get hurt either... so, I walked over and nicely asked him to be careful with the sign so it wouldn't break.  Mom made some comment that I took as exasperated humor and to which I responded with a smile and comment about the previously broken sign.

Barely twenty minutes later, I heard someone bouncing on top of the firetruck behind me (serious safety hazard, that) and turned to find the same boy.  He was an exceptionally well behaved kid, I promise, but I've seen kids go head first over the edge of the firetruck and am paranoid about it happening again... but with more serious consequences than the last time.

So, I went over to talk to him, asking him to "make sure to sit down or kneel if he was on top of the fire truck" and heard Mom make a nasty comment about how this was the Children's area and kids should be allowed to do kid things.  I was shocked by how angry she sounded and let her know that I was only looking out for her son's safety, as I'd seen other children take tumbles off the fire truck.

Without looking at me, she said, "I don't know why you're so mean.  Where did the nice librarian go?  You should leave and have her come back."

I don't think that I've ever had someone say something so harsh to me before and even now, recounting the event a month later, I feel hurt by her response.  Truly, I don't think that she was really angry with me but that she had had a long, frustrating day and I was an easy target.  I hope that she and her son continue to use our library in the future and that we are able to move past that first encounter and have a productive library-patron relationship.

AND today is Star Wars Reads Day, which is the first really big event that I have planned (and executed) and I'm really nervous about it.  Here's hoping it is a resounding success!

There have been ups and downs, really nice people and not so nice people, busy days and slow days, and I have learned so many new things!  I am excited to see where this new position takes me and what cool things I get to do in the future... I may write about my current job duties, for they are varied and awesome!