Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Keeper of the Zoo

Woodstock is broadly divided into two main schools—the High School and the Quad School, which encompasses both elementary and middle school. I work primarily in the High School and never really spent much time in the Ankle-Biting and Pre-Pubescent Sector. Until now. There is only one librarian in the Quad School library and her brother is getting married so, in true Indian style, she’ll be gone for two weeks (that is some party!). So I am filling in as the sole controlling agent amidst the chaotic ebb and flow of small children in search of reading material.

It really can be alarming. I’ve gotten somewhat used to the insanity of the High School. They’re loud and obnoxious but I can relate to them and usually control them with a mixture of humor and sarcasm. I’m not quite sure what to do with smaller kids. I brace myself each time a tidal wave of pint-sized people pours into the library, shrieking – “where are the Wally books?” “How many books do I have checked out?” “Can I go back to my locker? – and leaving a wreckage of shredded paper, forgotten belongings and un-shelved books in their wake.

But of course it’s not as bad as I make it sound. Many periods are very quiet with only a handful of library frequenters. And even when it’s busy, little kids are adorable and the ones who are just learning to read with confidence are my favorite. They come in, faces alight with the joy of accomplishment, and proudly return a just-finished book before prancing off to find another.

Someone came up with the truly brilliant project of Reading Around the World. We’ve pulled aside a number of books, fiction and non-fiction, from or about the 7 continents and each participating child is responsible for reading one book from each area. When they finish a book, they come racing into the library because we put a sticker on that continent on a large wall-map. Once they’ve completed all 7 continents, they get a prize. Much enthusiasm abounds, although minor altercations do occasionally break out, stemming from a general dearth of books on Antarctica in our collection. The ones we do possess are in hot demand.

So overall I’m having a grand time as Quad Librarian/Zoo Keeper. And if there’s mayhem, at least it’s amusing—it’s hard to take yourself too seriously when a large part of the job consists of saying things like: “Tristan, please stop body-slamming the stuffed gorilla.”


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