Have we not all come into contact with librarians at some point in our lives? Those of us who enjoy reading have had the pleasure of getting to know several types of librarians, each of whom left a lasting impression on our path. I have the best recollections of librarians from my time in school until the present. The librarians I met are largely responsible for the changes I have undergone. I’m not here to enthrall you with tales about librarians. I’m only here to let you know how fateful it can be to meet a librarian.
Books, the wielders of immense power, possess the ability to shape our minds and expand our horizons. According to John Locke, our minds are like empty canvases, tabula rasa-blank slate, as he said, just waiting to be filled with useful knowledge. And books gives our mind the information, specifics, and directions that mold our own being, like ink on a slate. Now, take a moment to internalize when a librarian becomes the torchbearer, illuminating your path to a whole new world. Have you ever felt that way before? The one where you lose track of time because you’re so absorbed in a book? The mystical power to take you to uncharted realms- belongs to the librarian.
Allow me to recount my first encounter with my very first librarian. I don’t want to get into the facts of how and when I first met the librarian, she was a peculiar character, and I must admit, I was quite intimidated by her. As a fervent lover of my own fantasy world, I was irresistibly drawn to books. Maybe the first time I felt that tingling in my heart because of the presence of anything was a book. The prospect of immersing into tales of imaginary characters, fantastic creatures, and far-off land made my heart flutter with excitement. And the key to these vivid fantasies was in the hands of the librarian.
This librarian, nevertheless, was not one to be cowed by flattery. She was a steadfast force in front of me, and any attempts to win her over were mocked by her gaze. Little did I know that earning her favor would require more than mere compliments. Being around books would make me feel overwhelmed. Which one should I pick? It was the most difficult choice one could make. After much deliberation, I eventually decided on a book, brought my newly created library card, and approached the librarian who had the scariest expression. “You cannot take this book”, she simply retorted without altering her attitude. “The senior section has it. Pick one from the junior’s section!” My entire face had fallen apart. No matter what book I chose at the end the ones I could ever take was the book that I already read during my stay in the library.
It is impossible to convince this librarian was my only thinking. And me being me, I would spend any free time I had, reading, spending two to three hours a day lingering around the library. I noticed she was losing her exterior slowly but surely. I observed her handing me books from the senior division slowly. I had a taste of novels that were intended for younger readers! And when I got to the senior level, with the help of the Almighty, I had gotten through that hard core of my first librarian.
A second encounter with a librarian, this time in a disheveled and neglected library, left a lasting impression. The shelves were a chaotic mess, books jumbled together like soldiers worn by battles of countless readers. However, I had discovered another bookworm like myself, and the two of us spent much of our free time in the library. The librarian in this location exuded a certain brusqueness, much like the condition of the library. Who, after all, wouldn’t act rudely in such a setting? It was challenging for a sunbeam to enter through the library’s windows because of the heaps of books. Nobody could keep up with or even keep track of which book belonged where! Books of all genres were stacked in the racks, jumbled and messed up: fiction, nonfiction, senior, junior. Some were torn and others had aged, resembling soldiers from past battles. Who could know, after all? These books have surely witnessed wars! The handling of wars and the rage of many readers!
I had been seeing the condition of this library and the librarian for months before I finally lost it. I made the decision to skip class and spend the day organizing things at the library. Me with a friend who enjoyed reading. We disappeared from the school and entered the library, where we reorganized all the books into its distinct sections. Since there was no ladder and some of the books were on the highest shelves, I had to climb up the shelf—without any safety precautions, mind you—in order to reach them. We had to repair the damaged books by putting the pieces back together, replacing the partially missing covers and patch the books like patching up and tending the wounds of the soldiers in battle field. Two days of hard work transformed the place, which gave the musty corners new vitality. In exchange, the librarian’s frosty mood warmed and she let us to borrow multiple books at once.
Throughout my life, as I ventured into different libraries and bookstores, the librarian and the library itself became the lens through which I viewed each new chapter. Despite the demands of adulthood, my first impression of any new institution or workplace was formed within the walls of its library. And throughout the journey till here I cannot gather the memory of any librarian that I remember fondly until next time.
Another memorable encounter was with a librarian who shared my deep love for books. It is truly satisfying when you find a librarian who is as much of a book enthusiast as you are. It creates a connection, a kindred spirit with whom you can discuss and explore the wonders of literature. In this particular library, I found solace and relief as a sense of happiness flooded over me. You see, a library that truly feels like a library, with its neatly divided sections and books extending their hands to be discovered, invites readers to immerse themselves in its treasures. But perhaps the most crucial factor in this equation is the librarian. How do they treat the readers? Are they encouraging? Are they fellow readers themselves? To truly understand the atmosphere and appreciate the importance of the library and the librarian, one must step into their shoes or, at the very least, have the ability to visualize and empathize with their role. If the librarian is not passionate about books, it detracts from the experience.
Now, you might be asking why I’ve given libraries, books, and librarians such a strong emphasis. The explanation is straightforward: our lives are reflected in the books we read. Psychology tells us that we become what we read because reading shapes the way our minds process information. Our reading choices have an impact on our ideas, convictions, and even self-perception. A library is a portal to a world of limitless opportunities and information. We come across various people, cultures, and ideas that deepen our awareness of the world in these pages. Who is it that leads us on this transforming journey? A rich tapestry of literature is curated and presented by the librarian. Not only do they provide literature, but they also help us create our own identities and explore new views.
So, my dear friends, what are you reading these days? Remember, the library and its librarian are more than just repositories of books. They are gateways to new worlds, catalysts for personal growth, and champions of the power of literature. Embrace the magic of libraries, seek out passionate librarians, and let the books you choose shape your mind and enrich your life.
-Swopnil Devkota (Psychosocial Counselor)