Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

On moments that matter

I know that you think the life of a librarian must be chic and glamorous, but the truth is that there are a lot of days where it is exactly what you think it is: a job.  It is a job filled with paperwork and budgets and decisions and trying to relate to people, both in the workplace and your patrons, who are oh so very different then you.  There are days when I walk into work overwhelmed by the amount of things I need to get done and can’t figure out to where to start.  And there are moments sitting at the reference desk when I think please, someone, anyone, ask me a fun, challenging question.

But then, there are THOSE moments.  Those moments when a patron walks up and says I am looking for a book that I read a couple of years ago, I don’t remember much about it but . . . and you go, Oh, you mean The Book Thief and you walk right over to the shelf and pull it off and put it in their hands and they think you are some kind of magical superhero with a mega brain.

And there are subtler moments, too.  Those moments when a woman with a bruised face asks you for books on relationships and you find a way to subtley give her the information for the local domestic violence shelter.  I am just waiting for him to calm down she says, and then reads a self-help book to find out what she is doing wrong.  You hope that one day she’ll figure out that it’s not her, it’s him and call the number that you gave her.

Working primarily with teens, I have seen my fair share of heartbreak.  I have sat with teens who have just lost a beloved classmate to an automobile accident or suicide.  I have listened as teens struggled with the realization that they are pregnant.  I have seen them fall in and out of love.  I have seen them graduate.

But I have also seen them go to juvie hall, drop out, and fall apart.  So many of them you simply lose touch with, because life is nothing if not ever changing.

But then there are THOSE moments. The glorious ones . . .

We have a teen reviewer here, his name is Cuyler.  Cuyler wants one day to be a writer and has, in fact, written 2 novels, one of which he self published.  A few weeks ago, I asked Cuyler if he wanted to go to the Montgomery County Book Festival with me and he said yes.  There, we met Jonathan Maberry.  This was a really big deal to both of us because we are FANS. Not crazy, stalker fans – just, I highly respect your work and think you are doing amazing things fans.  So Cuyler stood there talking to Jonathan Maberry, who is a delightful and gracious man, and he mentioned that he had written a book and brought a copy for him, and Jonathan politely said oh, well then go get it.  Cuyler hadn’t just brought the book, he had brought it in a gift bag with tissue paper and everything as a genuine gift for Mr. Maberry.  As he went over to get this gift, Cuyler looked at me and said, “Oh my goodness I can’t feel my legs, I can’t believe this is happening.”  Upon receiving his gift, Jonathan then kindly asked him to sign the book for him because he was, after all, an author and that’s what authors do – they sign their books.

Later, Jonathan Maberry would go on in his keynote speech to talk about how a Middle School librarian had introduced him to Ray Bradbury and Richard Matheson and how those men help him in his writing.  And I realized, Jonathan Maberry was in fact paying it forward.  He was able to give generously to Cuyler because others had done the same for him.

And then there was Ceci.  Ceci is one of our two tween reviewers here, and she is also my Godchild.  Her mother and I met through the Hypermesis Education and Research Foundation (www.helpher.org) after I had suffered at a horrific pregnancy loss.  Ceci recently had an assignment where she had to write a letter to someone she admired and she wrote to author Lisa Schroeder.  And Lisa Schroeder was kind enough to write her back (she is writing a post about it, so I won’t elaborate).  Last week I was talking to Ceci and her mom and she asked, “Do you have any ARCS of the newest Cupcake novel?”  Here’s an honest confession: I had no idea that Lisa Schroeder wrote anything other than YA.  So, I quick Tweeted Lisa Schroeder while we are talking and she remembered Ceci and said she did, in fact, have an ARC.  There was some high pitched squealing on the other end of the phone.

The thing is, we can’t underestimate the impact that these moments have on the lives of our tweens and teens.  The power that comes from knowing that an adult cares; those moments that come from having a moment of boldness. 

Having a positive impact on the lives of others around you takes boldness on your part.  You have to go the extra mile, to reach out and dare to ask, “how can I help you?”  And then you must follow through.

And moments that matter don’t have to be big, sometimes they are tiny.  A simple conversation.  Just knowing that someone put down what they were doing and took a moment to really stop and listen.  Be on the lookout for the moments that matter, they make it all worth it in the end.  These moments were brought to you courtesy of this blog – which makes all the other moments totally worth it.

Special thanks to Jonathan Maberry and Lisa Schroeder for helping me make these moments possible.


  1. Thank you for this post. We all need the reminder!

    Sometimes, you don't realize the impact books and author visits have on teens until tragedy strikes. After the tornado in Joplin in May 2011, one of my teens who lost her home came to the library to report that all of her autographed books were saved–she stuffed them in her purse as they were seeking shelter in their closet. These books that were signed by authors I brought in were her most precious possessions.

  2. Cari, I am so glad her books were okay, though so sorry for what she went through in the tornadoes. What an inspiring story. Karen, TLT

  3. Holy smokes – these are both such fantastic moments. When Maberry asked for Cuyler's autograph I literally got a cryball in my throat. Reminds me of the end of Wonder – “We should all be a little kinder than necessary.” Thanks for highlighting the good :)

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