I work in the children’s department, so nights during the school year are empty and slow. On one night, a dad and his daughter (about 4 y/o) came in, and the daughter was very shy. Dad nudged her up to my desk, and she peered up at me and whispers, “Unicowns?”
I take them both around our picture books picking up “Uni the Unicorn” and “A Unicorn Named Sparkle,” and the next one on my list is “You Don’t Want a Unicorn.” I slide that book off of the shelf and hand it to the little girl, saying loudly and jokingly, “You don’t want a unicorn!”
The four-year-old looked up at me with big, huge eyes and whispered, “YES, I DO!”
Submitted by Anonymous, Public Sector
#7 – Check
I had an older male patron (late 80’s) come in one day and ask for information on writing checks. I asked a few questions to clarify exactly what he was looking for.
He told me that his wife was recently put in Hospice care and she had always taken care of paying the bills, etc. He didn’t know how to write any kind of check. My heart hurt for him so much.
I googled easy check writing instructions and printed them off. I then proceeded to walk him through it step by step. He thanked me over and over again.
This is why I do what I do. For those brief moments you impact a persons life for the better.
Submitted by Tera
#6 – Learning
It starts off sad but ends much better.
I had a teenager in the library and she was on her phone. She came over to ask how to spell something and when I said “d” she said “Is that the one that goes this way or that way?” She signed both “d” and “b” in the air. I helped her write it out and she walked away.
Barely out of earshot, an older gentleman scoffed and said to me “I wouldn’t dare ask something like that. How embarrassing!”
So I loudly answered, “Actually it’s very common, especially for dyslexic people. It’s not just letters jumping around, they change shape too.” I also told him we supply books with dyslexia friendly font, but we don’t really get that on computers and phones.
He was surprised, but asked for more. He walked away with a new attitude. We learn something new every day.
#5 – Magic
I was working as a library assistant at a small university library. During the long summer vacation, we didn’t have so many students rushing in and out of the library every day. Instead, our visitors tended to be a few dedicated readers who would come each day for long periods of time to become completely absorbed in their work.
One of these readers came each day to work in the beautiful seventeenth century reading room. Each day I would welcome her and share time and space with her and the other focused readers in the quiet of the library.
On one of the last days of the summer vacation, she came up to the library desk with a huge smile on her face. She told me that she had been writing a novel all summer, and had finally finished it. It was a fantasy novel, full of magic, secret passageways, and witches. It had all been written in the quiet stillness of the library. I was amazed.
After that day, whether in the silence of vacation or the bustling noise of term-time, I could feel so much more keenly the magic all over the library – a magic woven by our mystery author and every one else who had read, studied, worked or found solace there.
Submitted by Rhiannon, Academic Sector
#4 – Love at First Sight
While I worked for an independent library our development manager would give primary school classes tours through the library, and show off some of our biggest and smallest books (the bigger ones as tall as the kids and the smallest books would fit into their palms).
It was always fun to see them walk through the (silent) reading rooms, trying to contain their excitement.
On one particular occasion, one little girl walked in an gasped and clapped her hands in front of her mouth to stifle the sound. Her eyes were about the size of saucers.
Deborah, Independent Sector
#3 – Safe Haven
My University has a silent scholars room for PhD students. When I was really struggling and couldn’t turn up to my Faculty to work on my thesis (fear of bumping into colleagues and supervisors) – the scholars room was my safe space. I could go there and not talk to anyone and feel safe to try and crack that thesis.
#2 – Aspiring Authors
We were honoured to receive a donation from one of our local authors, aged 8, upon the publication of his first book. The book covers the Titanic story, and includes an index, a glossary, and suggestions for further reading. It can be seen here in its beautiful, joined-writing, first edition.
The following week, we received another donation from an up-and-coming local author. This young man saw our previous post, and was inspired to write a book of his own on… the Titanic! In this book, the author’s detailed account is accompanied by top-quality illustrations that really bring the story to life. We love seeing our young members inspiring each other to exercise their creative minds. Keep it up!
Gorey Library, Co. Wexford, Ireland
#1 – Toblerone
I worked as a library assistant in a public library in a deprived area. The local Job Centre had just cut its support (this was c. 2010) and a lady came in desperately wanting help with her CV and job application.
As the deadline was the next day, I stayed after my shift to get the revisions done with her. We discussed why she wanted this job, and how it would help her. We practiced some interview questions.
2 weeks later she was back with a giant Toblerone for my team – she aced the interview and got the job!
Alice, Public Sector
Thank you Alice for our first story!
Heartfelt Library Moments
Welcome to our new project…
We hope to create a space where we can share and collect experiences from a library/information setting that have made you feel proud, happy, confident, hopeful – when you have seen something wonderful or felt you have made a difference.
Of course this won’t be a 100% accurate representation of all the work librarians and other information professionals do. They encounter many difficult times and challenges. Instead, this will be one corner of the internet where we can share, celebrate and take pride in the powerful and beautiful things that libraries make happen.
Please share your stories with us. Perhaps you gave an excited child their very first library card today, or supported a student through a frantic time – however big or small, we want to hear your voice.