A Day of Ordinary (Library) Miracles
Teacher-Librarian, May 2005.
"I wish you a day of ordinary miracles.
A fresh pot of coffee you didn't make yourself.
An unexpected phone call from an old friend.
Green stoplights on your way to work or shop.
I wish you a day of little things to rejoice in.
The fastest line at the grocery store.
A good sing along song on the radio.
Your keys right where you look.
I wish you a day of happiness and perfection.
I wish you little bite-size pieces of perfection that give you the funny feeling that God is smiling on you." - Anonymous
Yes, that crash you heard was your coffee cup hitting the floor. It's not often this old cynic admits to reading such saccharine stuff as the small blessing above, let alone spreads it around. But yes, it is still me.
The sentiment above arrived in an e-mail last Monday morning and it struck a chord. May I add my own set of wishes for those of you reading this website?
I wish you a day of ordinary (library) miracles and little things to rejoice in.
Eight hands that go up to request the title you've just book talked.
A computer that goes for an entire day without crashing.
A less-than-successful baking experiment taken to the teachers lounge, gratefully eaten before 10 am.
A child asking for another book "just like this one."
A software installation that does not cause another program to crash.
A parking spot close to the school door.
The principal saying a sincere thank-you.
An unexpected larger amount on your paycheck or a smaller amount on your mortgage payment.
A new book just published by your favorite author.
A student who is actually concerned about the quality of his work.
A dozen doughnuts as "thanks" for service above and beyond the call.
A quick and pleasant response from a technician.
A kid who wants to help you.
A human voice on the phone when you expected a recording.
A student who wants to become a librarian when she grows up.
A chance to show a tech-tip to a teacher who thinks you are a "guru."
A library with windows and sunbeams in the winter.
A request to use the library for a meeting because " it is the nicest room in the school."
A smile of accomplishment from a student who shows you how to do something on the computer.
A quickly-answered reference question asked by a teacher.
A library aid you like and who likes you.
A student so absorbed in a book, he doesn't hear the bell ring.
A call from a parent about a lost book found while cleaning.
A student who wants to hold your hand.
Students who give genuine praise to each other.
A small space of time to read for pleasure!
What strikes me as I read this list of "ordinary" miracles, is how we, ourselves, often make them happen. It is by treating others well that good is returned to us.
It's my sincere 2004 New Year's wish for all of us in these challenging times for education, libraries and technology that we do remember to see (and create) daily miracles for our students, our staff and ourselves.
Ordinary miracles observed by LM_Net readers and visitors to this page.
- Students taking advantage of open summer hours in the school library to check out books and use the computers.
- When you have had an extremely difficult year with how faculty and administration perceive your library program, but the students dedicate their yearbook to you in the following way. Our librarian: 1. An individual who goes above and beyond to help students with all of their English papers and research projects. 2. Someone who shows concern and empathy for others around them. 3. Someone who is fair and reasonable in their everyday setting. 4. an individual who encourages others to be their best. 5. One who is supportive and nurturing to all students. 6. An individual who is calm, helpful and gentle when dealing with others. 7. Someone who shows kindness, thoughtfulness and compassion to those around them. That felt like a miracle to me!!!
- Being seen in the parking lot by a parent and a kindergarten child. The mom asked after the child waved at me if that was one of his teachers. He replied, "No, that is the library chick!"; The way he said library chick made it sound like a really special title. :-)
- A fifth grade class was doing a research project. A student looked up at me and said. "I just love doing research."
- A 5th grade student choosing a chapter book to read independently that I read to them when he was in the 2nd grade.
- Being referred to as the Book Lady, the Library Lady, and ultimately the Book Girl by kindergarten students. Makes a person feel younger.
- One of the most powerful library miracles I have witnessed is when I showed a well-educated instructor how to look up a Bible verse. When I went to the shelf to pick up a Bible, she was shocked to see a Bible in a public school library. I showed her how to find the verse and assured her that this is reason America is so great. Let us protect the libraries of America!
- Enough bookends!
- A principal who constantly comments on how full of life, children and books the library is.
- A second grader who begs to please check out this book one more time.
- A teacher who comes to the library office for a much needed space to unwind and have a piece of chocolate.
- Coming back from Spring Break to seven boxes of new books to show the students.
- Reading A Story for Bear to 8 second grade classes and getting that "magic moment of silence" at the end of the story all 8 times!
- The thrill of making a kid really want to read a book.
- Kindergarten and First Grade students who all want to say hello to me when we meet on the sidewalks outside. (We have an old California style building with no hallways).
- Students who tell their parents, "Look, there's Ms. Riley, our library teacher!"
- The first grade student who called me, The Lady of the Library, which I took as a name of great honor.
- Books so popular that I have enough holds to last into next year, even though I have four copies of the book.
- Students who tell me that they would like keep a book forever (but don't).
- I wish you all the pleasure of seeing a student miss the signal to leave the media center because he/she is too wrapped up in a book! I wish you all are helped out as quickly as I have been when I have posted a problem or question. Library/Media people are the best! I wish you all the joy of making a good friend across the miles, someone who relates to your life. I wish you all the wonder of having a child that you know can't possibly accomplish a particular task, but they do! Finally, I wish you all the love that is radiated from everyone, in many different ways, that many times we just don't see.
- Being able to use Amazon or BN.com to get a book quickly for the principal that he really wants to read that might make a difference in our educational climate.
- Demonstrating online Inter-library loan to a student or teacher who REALLY wants a book we don't have and getting that book intheir hands within a few days.
- A student who says that the Library is his/her favorite place in the whole school.
- A library volunteer who likes to shelve and understands the Dewey Decimal system.
- A small group of 1st or 2nd graders sitting together sharing a book or magazine excitedly.
- An empty "processing" or cataloging shelf.
- Worrying about budget cuts and clerical and librarian staffing issues has been the norm for the past couple of years. When my principal came to me and forwarded extra money into my library account for books, I was pleasantly surprised and considered this to be a library miracle this year in times of tight funding!
- A day of correctly shelved books, A day of thank you's from parents, A day where your books are standing and you can sit down.
- A thank you from a parent of a 'difficult' child, for helping the child become a helpful member of the school community.
- Taking over a new position and finding that your predecessor was neither a monster who hated people nor a saint who could do no wrong and knew everything there was to know about libraries.
- Students who want you to read their essays, listen to their ideas about a thesis statement, or review their bibliography page for errors. (Although I initially wondered if I had created a monster by doing these extra things, I found myself humbled when one of the students came into the library this week with a small box of chocolate truffles and a note that said, "Thank you for helping me with a tough assignment!")
- And may your principal and superintendent come to you and assure you that no matter what the faculty say about how library skills were taught when THEY went to elementary school, the administration stands behind your insight, your wisdom, your training, and encourages you to continue your best practice. As a matter of fact, there will be a 7:00 a.m. faculty meeting called for Monday morning to explain this policy to the teachers and aides. Then they tell you not to come in until 9:00 a.m. on Monday. And give you a Christmas bonus that will help reimburse you for all of the books from your personal collection you use to teach the children.
- That, when you are forced to move the Junior Library Collection back into the Senior Library space creating the same crowded problem you had before the Senior Library was refurbished, even more students come to use the Library!
- That the Assistant Head of Junior School sends you an email saying that it is great to have such a fantastic librarian, and that the kids love coming to the Library.
- That we ALL (Library and Teaching staff) take the time to appreciate the work we do together to enrich and fulfill the lives of the students in our school.
- I'm blessed in that I have experienced most of these (except for the work and storage space, which I'm still dreaming of)...
- Finding just the right title to order, to meet a need mentioned by a student or teacher, especially if you didn't have to spend two days looking for it
- Parent aides who not only eagerly volunteer to work for you, but actually show up when they promised and do what they're asked
- Aides who know how to put books in alphabetical order and who understand decimals
- Kids who don't shove books back into any old space, but actually reshelve them where they got them from
- Kids who remember to take their books out of their bookpack and put them in the return box *before* making you put them on the overdue list or track them down
- Parents who believe you when you tell them that little So-and-so lost a book, instead of telling you that you must be wrong, because So-and-so swears s/he returned that book last week
- Teachers who thank you for the things you do for them
- A principal who know that your job is like an iceberg and who trusts you to do the past that doesn't appear in public, without having to constantly explain yourself
- Being able to find the right book to interest that one student that just knows there's nothing in the library fit to read
- A school secretary who's willing to screen your calls for you when you're busy and who will help you out when you need something done through the office
- Enough work and storage space to keep you from feeling as though you work in a landfill or a closet - or both
- And finally, time and space to actually eat your lunch in peace!
Add YOUR ordinary library miracle today!