Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Reader & Her Favorite Librarian...A Love Story

Okay, I was a little extra with that title, but if you've been reading this blog for a few years, you know that I love the library.  St. Louis has an amazing public library system and I actually feel sorry for people that live in places where libraries cut hours and close branches.  We have 17 branches here that are open year-round and seven of them are even open on Sundays.

A few years ago I wrote a post about why I'd never quit the library for ebooks.  Well, the St. Louis library offers the option to download ebooks, audio books and mp3s at home, but I still like to drop by my neighborhood branch and the main library to peruse the shelves and find hidden gems that are easy to overlook when browsing online.  The main library closed two years ago, not because there wasn't enough funding or interest for it.  It closed for a $ 70 million renovation!

With the closure of Central Library, I lost Sterling.  Who is Sterling you ask? He's only my favorite librarian.  In a previous post, I broke down my librarians based on their characteristics, but Sterling is the only one whose name I actually knew.

I'd miss Sterling, the gay librarian, who keeps track of everything I've read in the past 9 years and will not hesitate to say, "Oh no Ms. B, you've already read that! Child, I've saved something else for you to read." I'll admit that sometimes I read so much that I don't remember titles, authors or covers. Without Sterling I'd end up with a stack of already reads.

I'd miss Intense Librarian who always makes a big show of adding up my fines and asking if I'm ready to pay them. No, Ms. Ma'am. I happen to know that I can rack up $ 15 in fines before you cut me off and make me pay. If I was going to pay them right now, I'd have my wallet out, now wouldn't I? And yes, I know how to renew my books online since I requested them online. Yes, I know I could renew them online and save myself fines. Just give me the books already!

I'd miss Sympathetic Librarian who constantly apologizes for the long line at the counter, not knowing where to find the book I'm asking about, and the loud outbursts from the homeless men that hang out at the library.

And I'd even miss Nonchalant Librarian who pretends that he doesn't care what I'm reading, but always asks me about such and such book when I return my latest stack.

Who wouldn't love a cast of characters like that?  When the library closed for renovations, Sterling decided to retire and I've missed him desperately.  Nonchalant Librarian relocated to another branch and I run across him occasionally, but no one could take Sterling's place.  And then today, I was walking into the grocery store and I heard somebody say, "It IS you!"  I turned around and there was Sterling.  I squealed and hollered, "Oh my God! Where have you been? I've missed you!"  The old men sitting in front of the store were looking at us like what in the hell is going on here, but I didn't even care.  I was so happy to see him.  And in true Sterling style, he waved me off and said even though he retired, he has "a little piece of a job" now, and that he ran in the store to tell me how cute I looked in my dress.  Ahhh yes, Sterling...good for book recommendations and making me feel good.  I floated on cloud nine the rest of the afternoon.

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