I go to the library sometimes on Saturdays to print chord charts out for Sunday, if I’m playing in the church worship band (“Leading Worship.”) A few times I have gone without my library card, which means I have to enter my library card info in manually. I have to ask the librarian for my card number. She asks my name and then does a search. She has a cool and dispassionate manner, verging on curt. The librarian asks my address, and I tell her, but it’s not the same address with which I signed up for the card, years ago. She looks up and slowly shakes her head. “That’s not it,” she says. “Try again.” So I think, with my eyes closed. “Is it Keap Street?” I ask. Her head shakes. “22nd Street?” No. Finally I run through a few til I get to an address I thought I had forgotten, but pulled it up somehow. “That’s it,” she says, and starts to write my library card number down in neat script. She hands me the slip of paper with the number on it, wordlessly. Some might think that librarian is unfriendly, and in fact I read an online review of the Library branchthat suggested she was (I believe the review was referring to her). It was in fact a hateful review, and when I read it it made me sad for humanity. Not to hard to be sad for humanity these days. And I wanted to say to that reviewer that he didn’t get her, for lurking under the stoic face, is the mere hint of the beginning of the idea a smile. The detached manner belies a warm heart. A lot warmer than I might have if I were in charge of a busy library on a Saturday afternoon. It’s full of kids. I didn’t mention the kids. Anyway, How do I know the librarian has a warm heart? Well, I have secret knowledge, and the librarian knows that i have secret knowledge. We have a secret.
ONe day there was a book fair and a bake sale to raise money for the library. I came on a Saturday to print off my stuff, and instead of manning her table inside, the librarian was stationed outside at a folding card table selling brownies. She had on a bright teal shirt with the Library Branch name and the Brooklyn Public Library logo on it. All of the staff and volunteers were wearing a shirt with this design.
“Nice shirt,” I said.
“Uh huh,” The Librarian said. “You like it?”
“Yeah,” I said.
“Come on,” she said, and got up from her table.
I followed her into the library. The Librarian then got out some keys from a pocket in her skirt and opened the door to a staff room, holding her finger to her lips. She went inside for a second then re-emerged, holding something rolled into a tight cylinder. “Put this in your bag” she said. “And don’t tell anybody I gave it to you. It’s supposed to be staff only.” I took it. It was one of the teal book fair shirts. “For me? Wow. Thank you,” I said. The Librarian put her finger to her lips one more time. “Shhh!” she said, then walked away.