“See, there’s this girl…”
While tidying up in the stacks one day, I spied a student searching for a book.
“Can I help you find something or make a suggestion?” I offered. He sized me up, decided I might have something to offer despite the argyle sweater and glasses, and replied, “Yeah, I need a book about relationships.”
“Like a story or advice?”
“Girlfriend/boyfriend, best friends, mother-son, – what kind of relationship?”
“Not quite girlfriend-boyfriend, but almost.”
With that information we went through about 10 books – me describing them, offering the book to him to look over – and they all went over with a resounding thud. I needed more info.
“So about this almost girlfriend-boyfriend, what kind of story are you looking for? Is it unrequited love?” (with an explanation after the quizzical look)
“Well, maybe the girl is kinda quiet and shy and smart. Really smart. And the guy is…like…popular and kind of a jock. Maybe the guy is one race and the girl is another.”
“Ok, good!” We try a few more books. Nothing’s fitting. He’s not giving up on me yet, though, and I’m both surprised and motivated by that.
“Tell me more – I can tell you are looking for something specific.”
“Um, the guy doesn’t know how to talk to her. You know, they are different and he can’t figure out what to say. And his friends are giving him crap for talking to this girl of another race. But he likes her a lot.”
“Wow, sounds really specific. Let’s see…”
“Yeah, um, well….it’s really me. See, I like this girl, I mean really like her, and she’s so smart and she’s different and I just keep messing up every time I try to talk to her.”
In my head I’m grinning from ear to ear while this kid tells his story of earnestly trying to win the girl. We settle upon two books that he thinks have potential and he left feeling hopeful. I left feeling hopeful that day too, because those are the kind of conversations that make being a librarian one of the best jobs around. Those conversations are the ones that make you forget about budget cuts and test prep and red tape and make you remember that you put up with all of that for the kids.
That particular student comes in periodically for more recommendations and to update me on his love life. Ah, the things you don’t get trained for in library school are often some of the most pleasant surprises.
Collins Hill High School