Last year, I was at the library–you know, just one of my casual trips I make three times a week–and I saw a sign for my library branch’s book club. I had recently “changed my membership” from one library branch to another and was excited to see my new branch was reading Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race
So at 28 years old, I went to my first book club meeting, ever. And it was as magical as I’d expected. I met readers like me. Readers who consume as many books as they possibly can and want to talk about books and about bookish life. I met readers who were open-minded free thinkers who liked books to help them reassess their views of the world. I met readers who read and really, really read. It was wonderful.
That first meeting, I was afraid I’d be out of place. I didn’t know anybody there, and–while I’m very much an extrovert–I need a security blanket to help me initiate conversation. Apparently my book was my security blanket, because I had no trouble hopping right in. It was invigorating.
The best part of joining this book club was getting to meet Kathy. Kathy is my librarian. I’m sure she belongs to many people. But ultimately, and most importantly, she is mine. After two meetings with the book club, she was able to identify the type of reader I am. She asked me if I would mind leading a discussion and had already researched some of my recent reads to see if the library had enough copies for my book club to check out and read. And she seemed excited to have me as the discussion leader.
Since then, Kathy has proven just how magical a librarian can be. For one book club discussion, we read The Wright Brothers by David McCullough. When the copy I put on hold became available to me, she sent me a personalized email that was very like a boarding pass for an airplane. It was the smallest gesture and it meant the world to me.
The extent of her magic doesn’t stop there. One day, I walked into the library and Kathy greeted me at the front desk with a big smile and a “how are you?” We started talking and she mentioned that she had read about a book that day that seemed exactly like a book I would love to read. The book? Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin. This is the point where I flipped out. I had gone to the library that day to put a hold on Young Jane Young. How did she know? She is a sorceress.
Two days ago, we were at our book club meeting for the month. I was on the library website because I didn’t actually read the book this month, so I didn’t have anything to contribute. (I’m a bad member, I know.) I found a book that looked really interesting, added it to my holds list, and then joined the conversation again. The group had changed conversations and had migrated to talked about books they had just finished reading or were currently reading. Kathy, the magical librarian, looked at me and said she’d just finished a book I’d love. The book, she said, was called The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy. IT WAS THE BOOK I HAD JUST PUT ON HOLD. HOW DID SHE DO THAT?!
It’s one thing to be able to recommend books for people. I have a gift for recommending the perfect books for people. But to pluck the exact title I’m seeking right out of my head? That is straight up librarian witchcraft.
I don’t know how many people develop relationships with their librarians. I don’t know how many people feel like they have their own, personal librarian. Maybe I’ve won the lottery.
But maybe not. Maybe all librarians are magical. Certainly all libraries are magical.
Do you have your librarian? Tell me about him or her! I can’t wait to read all about them.
The Plucky Reader
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