Ever since I can remember I have loved libraries. Big or small, they all have a certain magic for me. I remember when I was a child in Redwood City, CA and I went to the Schaberg Branch. It seemed huge to me then, and I thought it must hold all the books in the world. It was a special place that held a world of imagination, and I loved my trips there. I have memories of searching the shelves for that “just right” book. The library was a quiet place for reading and studying. No one would ever have dared to scream, yell, run, throw things around, and generally make a mess for someone else to clean up. And food or drinks were a big no-no.
Well, fast forward, about 45-50 years later (it’s hard to realize I’m that old!). and things have certainly changed. The libraries of yesteryear are gone and we will not see them again. Libraries are now noisier, busier, and in many ways more alive and vibrant than when I was a child. That they are a place that community can meet, work and spend time together is a wonderful thing. Libraries serve the needs of their communities with materials and programs that are appealing, educational and fun.
I work at three libraries here in Fremont: Fremont Main, Niles Library, and the Irvington Library every week. Each library has its own personality and distinct community. I feel it is a real privilege to serve so many people in this city. I have gotten to know many patrons well over the years and am very happy to have formed some great relationships. I am very fortunate to work in a profession that I love.
There are some things happening in our libraries, however, that I find quite distressing. In fact, I will admit they make me very, very angry. I must say that if you are reading this, you are probably not one of the people who incur my anger. Most library patrons are well-mannered, considerate and care about how they treat their local library. Then there are those that cause me to shudder at their behavior.
Here is a list of some of the behaviors that I believe are downright rude and unacceptable in the library: yelling, running, parents ignoring their screaming child who disturbs everyone around them, leaving materials on the floor, pulling materials off the shelf and letting the rest fall over, randomly sticking materials back on shelves where they don’t belong, leaving personal trash (food, wrappers, drink containers etc) everywhere. There are many times that I look around the library at the end of the day, and it is a total mess. I can’t understand why people would treat the great privilege of having a free public library so disrespectfully.
The library does its best to provide a clean, safe, appealing environment. Library staff work very hard to get materials back on the shelves so they are available. Unfortunately, the library is working with a smaller staff and budget than it had before, so we have fewer people to get everything done. If we have to spend time picking up and cleaning up after people who treat the library as their own personal garbage can with no respect or concern for anyone but themselves, then we have less time to get materials on the shelves. We have less time to spend with patrons.
So the next time you come to the library, remember that you play a very important part in its well-being. Show consideration to those around you, by not running or yelling, or leaving materials on the floor or trash everywhere. The library is a wonderful asset to the community, but we need your help to make it work better for everyone. Take good care of your library and make sure that your children do too. Let others know that we all share this wonderful place, and if we want it to be a place our communities can be proud of, then we need to pitch in and do our part.
Pass it on: Love your library? Then treat it kindly!