Monday, September 9, 2013

A New Found Respect

Ok so the new school year has started and Carrie is amidst the throng of students at Ernest Gallet Elementary. She brings home paperwork to show us to acclimate us to new rules and what is expected of her and apparently us. One of her deliveries requested volunteers and she very much wanted me to be one of these. I completed the form and she quickly took it back to school and I quickly received a phone call.

The library assistant called to ask if I would be interested in working in the library and if so, what days could I be available. She mentioned Mondays as being the busiest days and I agreed to come in and help. She was excited and asked how long I could stay..."the full 2 hrs?"
"Oh sure!" I replied. I could see myself settled on the floor in front of the book shelves putting books away in alfa order.

It has been a long time since I was a student and I had no idea what my two hours would consist of. I envisioned a leisurely two hours chatting with the students and a slow pace that would be boring and restful. Isn't that what we notice when we go into a library? It's quiet. I had no idea the volume of work that the library staff have to do. 

This library was quiet. That's where my expectations came to a screeching halt. I was in information overload in the first 5 minutes.

The children are trained well. They line up in front of the bar code scanner and present themselves with their badges that have bar codes on them. The badges must be attached to their collars for easy scanning. They must stagger the books they are holding so as to be quickly scanned by the library worker (me) and as the computer picks up the scan, it also tells you how many books the student has already checked out. You must ask them if they bought any books back and how many. They don't lie and apparently the honor system works well. If any are overdue, you encourage them to get them in. First and second graders get one and two books to check out while the third graders can check out 3 or more but one of them must be "numbered" which means a book that qualifies for AR (accelerated reader) and which they will be tested on. They each have a folder they carry which tells which level they are on and the books they are checking out must be on that level. Just checking all this was stressful enough!

When the line clears, I move to the stack of returned books and start scanning them in and sorting them to the rack for return. That's a whole 'nuther set of rules that must be followed. Brown spots on the spine of the books designates them to a certain spot in the library and only from 01 to 1.5. It stops there. Then there is the Dewey Decimal shelves, the shelves labeled "E" for Easy Reading, the "92"s for Biography that is sorted according to Title and not Author and the "F" for Fiction and the "NF" for non fiction. The Dewey Decimal is also split up according to subject and now I know I'm in way over my head. I have two hours to be here and I never stopped. I was amazed that this library assistant was responsible for all this work. The Librarian? I asked her what she did when I first arrived. She smiled and said "Oh, I stay busy!"

She was holding classes all day. The students would come in and from kindergarten on she gathered them together and taught. I got to listen to her talking to the kindergarten children. They are schooled on rules of the library. She told them "you are borrowing these books. They are not yours to keep. You bring them back so other children can read them."

From where they wear their badges to how they act in the library, her kindergartners listened quietly. I didn't get to listen to the other classes she held but hopefully I'll get in on that next week. You see, I'm signed up to appear there every Monday.

The assistant told us up front that if she never saw us again she would understand. She said that many of the volunteers never came back saying "this just isn't for me!"

I was a bit overwhelmed but I'm sure that after a couple of times doing this, I'll retain more of the information on this and get a bit more comfortable doing it. This was my first shot. I'm tenacious. I'll not give up or give in! The assistant was so appreciative of the help she received today which makes it easy to go back next Monday to give her some much needed help!

I'm off to take some notes on all this stuff. I'm sure by next Monday I'll need to be retrained if I don't.

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