The books arrived. It’s safe to say we’ve all been in bookstores and libraries where there are lots of books. Thousands of them. Way more than 3593. But until you have 1) seen that many books come out of boxes, and 2) put that many books onto shelves, you have no idea just how many books 3593 really is. If you are interested in the official technical library definition of how many books we are talking, here it is: a damn freaking lot. By the time we had most of the fiction and the biographies in place and I had moved on to the 000-399 area of the room, I was over the “Oooohhhh, cooooool, new books” attitude and had moved on to something along the lines of, “Great, another 304.2. How many damn 304.2s do we really need? I mean, what the fuck were we thinking?” It was around that time that MJ discovered a whole box of 000-071s that hadn’t been placed, so I had to rearrange a number of shelves to accommodate them. Frankly, I am sick of books. How ironic is it that when I arrived home at half past the dark of night, an Amazon order I placed a few days* ago was waiting in the mailbox. Joy! Four new books! I am thinking of using them to build a fire.
But not really. See, this order was sort of a turning point for me. One of my biggest reasons for going into school media has to do with librarian-teacher collaboration. I discovered it as a teacher and loved the process; I have dabbled in some collaborative efforts with a few teachers, but our diminished collection has made it hard to do anything extensive. But as of today our collection is no longer diminished, and for the past several days I’ve been entertaining thoughts of pitching mini-project ideas and lesson plans to teachers using these literally thousands of books as ammunition.
In fact, I was having an informal meeting with Principal New and Improved, telling him enthusiastically about our plans to host little “meet the new books” receptions for each department, when he dropped this bomb on my little shiny village of hope: I might have to teach a 9th grade English class next semester. I have struggled with the change in routine, and with the challenge of getting teachers to make time in their busy schedules for the library, and with the frustration of dealing with kvetchy co-workers, and with the feeling of incompetence that accompanies being new at a job, but I can honestly say I was on the cusp of finding my groove. And now I am filled with dread.
Those of you who have been along for the ride from the beginning recall how ready I was to walk last year at this time, and the year before that. And I could have. I had other options. But I chose to return to this place, a school to which I have devoted over a decade–literally my whole career–because I believe in its potential. Because I’d get to work with a longtime friend and learn from her experience. Because it felt like the right thing to do. Thing is, I chose to return as a librarian, not as an English teacher, and now I’m feeling cheated. Yes, he said “might,” and yes, nothing is set in stone yet, but I can’t shake the dread. The mere potential of this nightmare becoming a reality makes me want to walk again. Away from a school community that is like a family, away from the new books and the new building, away from my friends. And of course, just like all those times I wanted to walk before, now I have nowhere to go. I’m really ready to get this work thing right for once. Mainly I’m ready to stop using up all my energy trying to get this work thing right. Sigh.
*I initially typed “an Amazon order I placed a few years ago.” Paging Dr. Freud. Is this really only Wednesday?