March 9, 2005

Proto-Inkslinger #8: The fascinating world of books

Telegram Community Editorial Board
Written from Carbonear, NL
Appeared in the St. John's Telegram on March 9, 2005

The fascinating world of books

Whenever I walk in the Carbonear Memorial Library, I continually realize that it has come a long way from the little building next to the Royal Canadian Legion that I remember going to when I was growing up. The new Carbonear library that is established in the Community Centre is a work of art, in my opinion. It shares a building with the town council office and a 300+ seat theatre. You walk in, and right off the bat, you are awestruck by the amazing view of the ocean. One of my favourite places in the world is looking through the big twin windows that face the harbour. On a windy day, it feels like you are on a ship, the ocean fills your field of vision. A piece of glass separates you from the Newfoundland, Canadian, and Carbonear flags. When they’re flapping in the wind, it’s very exhilarating.

For several months now, I’ve been working as a substitute librarian at the Carbonear Memorial Library. It’s a very rewarding job. I’m dealing with the general public of all ages, from toddlers to the elderly. With a stamp, I sign books in and out. I help people with the computers. The four computers are almost always blocked solid. I show people how to find certain books (or at least point them in the right direction).

A librarian has to be able to multi-task. I remember one time, I was showing someone where to find a book, then someone came in with some books to be checked back in, and then the phone rang – all at once. Despite what some people may think, it is not a quiet, hum-drum job. Stamping books and putting their cards away is nothing more than a mechanical task. Since I’m just a substitute, I’m not always one hundred per cent sure where all the books are yet, but I have a better idea now then I did before. During the rare quiet time, I thumb through a paperback that may be lying around.
Books and writing have always been a passion of mine. When I’m at the library, I'm surrounded by millions of words and ideas that will surely inflame my creativity. There are many worlds here to explore, and ideas for future projects to be discovered.

In my opinion, every book is its own little world. When you open one, the author pulls you into his or her personal universe. Like television, it’s an escape from reality. Unlike television, however, you can use your imagination, which is more powerful than anything you see on television. And of course, the book is always better than the movie.

I'm definitely getting more comfortable with this job. My confidence is gradually increasing. Things are running smoother for me than they were previously. I'm not as nervous, and so fewer mistakes are being made. I'm learning the locations of all the books now (at least I hope I am), and thus I'm getting quicker at returning them to the shelves. I love the smell of books!

Pete Hamill, a famous New York columnist wrote me once with this advice, and I want to share it with you: “Read like a predator. Make it part of your food.”