Today I met my mentor in the aisles of the library

Life as a teacher, and as a librarian, I presume, is busy. Add onto that, being a sponsor of extracurricular clubs and then one is, I presume, busier. Add onto that, having a side gig working part time at a library (my mentor) or as a paid singer (me) and one is..busiest?

I have been in contact with my mentor, but with our very busy schedules, we decided to meet in mid-May.

The day is Friday or a day I know as, being raised Catholic, Good Friday. It is a day, therefore, that I have off from school. I sing later in the afternoon, but I take advantage of my free morning by taking my 1 year old to “Rhyme Time”.

“Rhyme time” at Davis library is different from the library near my house. The songs and rhymes are different. There is a book display set up for us to peruse after the event. This display has about 20 different books, and as a Mexican American or Tejana, my eye is drawn to the board books of Selena and Frida Kahlo. As a new parent, I constantly consider how I will share my Hispanic heritage with the baby since we live so far from home (Edinburg).  So, who is in charge of making these displays? How do they pick these books? How do they know I considered purchasing some of these books the last time I was at Target?

Upon leaving “rhyme time”, I grab the Selena board book as well as a Hindi book called ” Follow the ants” and exit the children’s area. During our one phone call, and emails, my mentor has mentioned that she spends time working at the public library. With this in mind, I walk slowly and look closely, but not too awkwardly at the name tags of staff members who are, what looks to be, re-shelving books. I inspect one name tag, nope, not her. I walk slowly, observing the way in which this library serves their Asian community with books and magazines. I see tutoring sessions to my right. I turn the corner and see another staff member. I get close, but not too close to the name tag. It reads, ” Lisa.” That is my mentors name! I make eye contact and ask her last name. Yes, it’s her, my mentor. After we hug, I tell her what I was doing there. In a mere 4 minutes, Ms. Scott’s purpose was obvious. The library is her passion and her act of service. She mentions the tailoring of this specific library’s resources to meet the needs of the community and demographic. She said that working at the public library has helped her so much with organization in her own school library. She talks about how library staff are visible and accessible to library patrons, which was how I ran into her. I couldn’t think of the term that I found on my readings that match this definition. I discovered it later in my quizlet set of library science vocab. The term is ” roving” and according to ODLIS (online dictionary for library science) refers to “the practice of discreetly walking about the reference area of a library in search of users who need assistance, as opposed to remaining seated at the reference desk.”

When my baby starts getting fussy ( nap time), I say a quick goodbye, confirm our mid-May meetup and rush to check out my books. As I fumble for my library card, she approaches me asking if she can help and that helping parents as they checkout is a norm here at this library. I tell her thank you.

How fortunate am I to be with Ms. Scott? She is empathetic, understanding and knows her purpose. What is my purpose? I love teaching, I love the library. Why can’t I formulate a purpose statement?

Here it is: I perceive the library as this entity separate from human hands. It is an institution that is a right. There are 5 in my city alone. I realize this is ridiculous. Libraries exist because of people like Lisa, who advocate. They exist and offer amazing resources because someone has worked to get those resources for the community. That book display with the Selena board book was curated by someone. I try not to be too hard on myself as I reflect on the words I told Ms. Scott when she asked why I wanted to do Library Science. I imagine myself twirling my hair, looking up at the ceiling, shrugging, in a Cinderella voice, ” the library is…magical.” It is not so. Someone made it magical, one step at a time.