Small Library, BIG on Relationships

Alyssa and pet chick at Van Etten LibraryI accidentally locked myself out of the Van Etten Library a few weeks ago. I walked to the neighbor’s house and tried calling all the town officers to see if anyone could let me back into the municipal building. It was a Saturday, so no one was home. The neighbor realized that everyone in town was probably at a memorial service at the church. Feeling rather embarrassed, I followed the neighbor over to the church where the memorial service was ending. We found the Town clerk, who cheerfully announced to everyone as she made her way through the crowd, “the librarian has locked herself out of the library; I have to go let her in!” Now practically the whole town knew I was in a silly predicament!  It was embarrassing, but also very funny. And this is why I love rural librarianship in a small village. Getting to know everyone, building relationships, and helping patrons, is integral to being a good librarian. That’s true of librarianship in every setting, but it is especially noticeable and vital in a small community.

More reasons I love rural librarianship: I feel needed, and I get to know almost everyone. Re: feeling needed:  One woman called in a panic on Friday evening, “You’re the only one that’s open in the village! My water pipe burst & I don’t know who in the village to call!! Do you have the number of the person in charge of village water???!  (I didn’t, but I knew someone who knew who WAS in charge of water and they passed on the SOS call.)

I get to know almost everyone (who walks in the library door). And they know me! Alyssa raised a fluffy black chick in school (pictured above); she brought it to the library in a hot pink bag to show me. I was thrilled. Jacie regaled me with tales of riding the zipline at the Girl Scout’s camping weekend. Cathy overheard me saying that I wished I had an old wooden ladder for my container garden. She showed up at the library next week to surprise me w/ a rummage sale wooden ladder poking out of the back of her car!

All of this reminds me how important, and reciprocal, relationships are. I’m very fond of my library patrons because I got to know them over time. Knowing who they are, their likes, dislikes and needs help me provide programs, services, and information tailored specifically to them.  Whether it is a burst water pipe, a school project, rewriting a resume, (see JobNow ) how to prune old apple trees, or surviving a zombie attack, I’m here to help this community who in turn, helps me by creating meaning, hilarity, and joy in my life.

Doris Jean Metzger, MLIS
Van Etten Library

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