Ode to Librarians Everywhere

On Monday I had a reading. The audience consisted mainly of writers, students and people in the biz. People said nice things and bought books. I smiled and remained professional.

Last night, I had a different reading at my local library. This one was attended by a small group of friends, work colleagues and librarians. Librarians. The word is enough to make my throat go dry; my hands get numb, I get palpitations, the works. I chose the same story I read on Monday, but the little pockets of laughter were notably absent. It probably had something to do with putting emphasis on all the wrong words, which I do when I am nervous. Also, the mumbling didn’t help. Ar some point there was desperation, which is never a good look for me.

The librarians were kind-faced and nodded supportively from the front row, which only made it worse. I wanted to flee into a dark corner, Jackson Pollock-style, as I did after my first event several years ago. It took everything I had to stand there and finish the story.

During the Q&A portion, the librarians were efficient, polite and well-prepared. One had googled me, another read a review that someone else had written and most (unlike the rest of my audience) had read the entire collection. I felt like a schoolgirl, scared that one of them would say I had failed to live up to my potential. I wanted to tell them that my next book featured librarians. Not ‘them’ specifically, more like a general homage to their kind. But I didn’t have the nerve. Unlike teachers, who I’ve never had a problem with, librarians make me shy and inspire a sense of awe, probably because I have worshipped so often at their church.

Overall they liked the collection, which was a relief. More than relief. When one works and lives among books, these things really matter. Friends and family, work colleagues, I love them dearly. They always know how to make me feel better. Librarians, on the other hand, tell it like it is. And for that I respect them. They still scare me though.

4 Comments

  1. brandnewgirl

    Here I was thinking I have been doing a decent job of trying to write without having published a single story. (except in the web – that doesn’t count anyway)Your posts in a way scares me about how silly I have been to dream about publishing, but they also kind of give me some hope.

  2. We librarians are indeed to be revered (takes a bow). Although I was disappointed, recently, to overhear a couple of newer members of staff confessing to a customer that they rarely read. RARELY READ??? And you’re working in a library? How rude.You’re so brave to have done a reading (that sounds clumsy.) Author, Elizabeth Noble, did one, plus a Q&A session, at ours a year or so ago, and she said from the off that if she started turning red from the neck up it was just the nerves, which never improved no matter how many times she did it. That comment really endeared us to her and, yes, we librarians who attended made a point of reading her latest novel before she appeared! I’ve got a signed copy on the bookshelf somewhere.I’m not sure I’d ever be that brave…

  3. A librarian who doesn’t read? What is this world coming to? That’s like an aberration against nature. Reminds me of a local event where Kate Mosse was coming to read at one of the libraries. The council put up posters and all week young men rang up to excitedly to order tickets. They had to put up signs saying Kate MossE not Kate Moss.

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