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You Never Know What’s on Your Library’s Shelves…

Women Library Shelf

March 14, 2018

I’ve spent much of my life, off and on, in libraries. I worked here at MCPL’s Excelsior Springs Branch as a page back in the 1980s, spending my shifts shelving books and doing other odd jobs. During college, my on-campus job was as a writing tutor, and I set up shop in the campus library. When I had no “clients,” I browsed.

In the 20+ years that followed college, I was as regular a customer as the library probably had; and then a few years ago, I returned to the building where I got my start—first as a page, then as a part-time desk staff member, and then as a full-timer.

One thing I learned early on was that the more time you spend in the library, the more fascinating finds you’ll make. That fact hasn’t changed, despite changes in technology, the world, and in my own character.

A casual library customer comes in looking for a particular item or a particular type of item. Maybe she’s after a bestseller, or he’s looking for CDs by a certain musician. Perhaps it’s a parent picking out picture books for a toddler or a middle-school student researching ancient Rome for a school project. These customers may know where their item is, or they may come to the desk for assistance (which we are only too happy to lend). But once they get their item, they’re back out the door until the next time.

Another type of customer is “the browser.” This person may have a vague idea of what he or she is after, but they realize that there are literally thousands—tens of thousands—of items on the shelf, and they know that there may be a gem in there among all the pebbles. So, they wander up and down the aisles, allowing free association to lead them from topic to topic, author to author, musician to musician.

I can tell you that working in a library gives you unique access to the uncountable resources here. Yes, I know about the popular authors and the new releases, but there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t find something that I never knew existed. It might be an odd nonfiction book that explores a topic that I had previously never thought about but find intriguing. It may be a new author (or an old one) that has a little-known early book or side project that blends in on the shelf.

It’s impossible to describe all these unique finds because there are literally more out there than I could count. And I can’t say what you’ll find fascinating, but I guarantee there are things here that you never knew existed, but that you can’t live without.

The next time you stop in the Library, carve a little time out of your schedule, and allow yourself to explore what’s on our shelves. You may just find a literary nugget—or a whole library treasure—just waiting to be discovered!

Eric C.
Excelsior Springs Branch

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