Written by Abbie James, Gettysburg Library Children’s Assistant
Scavenger hunts. Digging for pirate gold. Some fun childhood memories may have surfaced from reading those words. It turns out that hunting for treasure isn’t only exciting for kids—and I get to do it every time a patron comes into the Children’s Department and requests a book. “Unicorn stories?” Absolutely! “What’s the first novel in this dragon series?” I’d be happy to look that up. “It’s a story where a girl gets a gift.” Luckily, I’d just read that one! The best part is, unlike some childhood treasure hunts that involve digging a giant hole in your backyard and finding poison ivy roots instead of valuable artifacts (an unfortunately true story for someone in my family!), the Adams County Library System almost always has the book-gems patrons seek.
When I’m not on a scavenger hunt for a book, another awesome part of working in youth services at the library is planning and hosting story times for kids and events for tweens. It’s always a joy when a three-year-old laughs at a goofy illustration in the story I’m reading aloud or a twelve-year-old shouts the correct answer while playing charades. (We’re allowed to be loud in the Children’s Department!) Sometimes the conversations during events are about books, which is great. I love when a parent who asked for recommendations tells me their child devoured the book I offered. Other times, young patrons talk about what’s going on in their lives. “I just lost my first tooth.” How exciting! “We’re going to a baseball game tomorrow!” What’s your favorite team? I might not know as many facts about jellyfish as you do, but I sure would love to hear them. Discussions that build community and belonging are always welcome at the library.
Another part of my typical day is gathering books that patrons have put on the holds list—and while this next part may not sound glamorous, I enjoy cleaning any possible gunk off the covers before they get to patrons’ hands. (We all know well-loved books sometimes acquire a patina, but I like sparkly-clean library materials!) I get excited to pick up my holds at the library, so I wouldn’t want people to be disappointed about the book they’re looking forward to.
An additional responsibility is pulling books from the Gettysburg branch to fill requests from the other branches in Adams County to exchange part of our collections. This provides more variety for patrons. For example, a branch might ask for a rotation of two bags of young adult graphic novels—so I pull items, check to be sure the branch hasn’t recently had the book, scan, and bag those items for delivery.
Finally, the routine tasks of shelving books and maintaining the face-out displays allow me to stay current on what materials are available when patrons ask for items—which is super important. The computer catalog search is a helpful treasure map—with a giant X-marks-the-spot-answer on the screen. However, sometimes it’s faster if I don’t need the computer—if I already know where to find the glimmering treasures on the shelves all around me.