Guest Blog: Life Behind the Shelves

Libraries smell.  It’s a combination of dusty, unread pages, acrylic paintings too hideous for hotels to display, sticky PB&J hands touching every book they can reach, and pee-pee pants.  But libraries also smell of something greater.  They smell of knowledge.

Recently I’ve gotten to view libraries in a new light.  This summer I decided to do something besides sitting in my room watching countless Netflix movies and playing computer games (I suggest Hambo).  I decided to volunteer at Aiken County’s public library.  Sounds good, right?  I’d get to shuffle around all day in the air conditioning, wagging my finger at naughty children and suggesting books to kids slightly younger than me.  I’d also get to display a snazzy “Library Volunteer” pen (complete with a stick person reading a book) on the front of my multicolored shawl, always a plus.

It was a good idea…at the time.

Ever since I started volunteering there, I’ve started hating the library more and more.  Sure, it’s a great resource.  And the staff is super friendly and nice.  And there are a lot of really neat programs and stuff going on there.  But I just don’t like the public, the browsers, perusers, the grazers, whatever you want to call them.

Something about these people really tick me off.  They think it’s okay to leave books strewn across the aisles.  And it’s quite normal to find a ‘Young Adult’ book in the Children’s Room.  And despite common belief, the Spanish books go on a separate shelf, not with the baby books.  I even found a book on interracial relationships on a shelf with books for beginner readers (I left it there just for fun). These people just don’t understand.    And  I could go on, but I’d rather just leave you with the generalization I’ve made, and trust me on this one; library-goers are bad people.

But the other day, I did meet an exception.  Well, it wasn’t technically a “meet.”  It was more of an “overhearing occasion.”  A little bit of eavesdropping.  Alright, I’m not going to lie, I was straight creepin’ and creepin’ hard.

Two complete strangers struck up a conversation.  I learned that one woman was was a young single mom raising two kids after escaping a rough,abusive home life.  The other woman described how two of her brothers were shot and killed and how one day she watched her grandchild play in the front yard as a car ran off the road and broke the little girl’s neck. Her grandchild, like the brothers, died.  But, throughout the talk they spoke about God and how He helped them get to where they are today.  They were so faithful and so religious.   Both women came from, in my opinion, horrible backgrounds.  I can’t even imagine what they’ve gone through.   It made me feel not only guilty for living a comfortable life, but also jealous for their deep, beautiful relationship with God.  It made me take another look at myself.

So I guess libraries are good for something besides playing hide-and-go-seek and wasting time in the air conditioning.  Sure, I’ve got the whole love-hate relationship going on, but there is no denying that the library has taught me much more than any book could (besides maybe the Webster-Merrian Dictionary).  And so what if it does smell?!?!  That’s the smell of knowledge for you, and as we all know, with knowledge comes power. And I like power.

{Annalise Eberhard is a rising senior in high school .  She recently started blogging after her mother forced her to.  She is not a published author, poet, or anything cool like that, but she does enjoy writing and drinking grape soda.  She is a current member of the Poetry Club, National Honors Society, National German Honors Society, and the German Club, as well as Co-Editor of her school’s newspaper.  She also clogs, plays church-league basketball, and runs track and cross country.  Her life isn’t exciting, but she makes up for it by being weird. Check our her blog here}


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