Kindness, I’m learning, is a powerful thing.
Working in a public library, people from all walks of life come through my door. I love this because it gives me the opportunity to interact with people who are very different from me. One of the joys of being a small town librarian is the ability to really build relationships with my patrons. They aren’t just faces checking out books. I call them by name, remember what books they like, and get to be part of their routines.
You find the most generous people in small towns. My patrons, in particular, have shown great kindness to me over the past two years. They know I have a long commute and I can’t count the amount of times I’ve been offered a place to stay on winter nights when driving conditions are hazardous. A year ago, a family who knew I love cats surprised me by bringing in their litter of kittens. Having a kitten party in the library was pretty much a dream come true and I glowed the rest of the day. Recently, one of my regulars attempted to recruit my help in tapping maple trees and boiling syrup. He’s a prankster and, when I said no, gave me a hard time. A week later, though, he gave me a jar of homemade syrup anyway.
These relationships are one of the things I love most about my job.
One of my goals, and something I work very hard at, is to treat each person who walks in the door with dignity and respect. I want people to feel seen and known when they visit the library–they aren’t just another faceless consumer. I want people to feel like they matter.
This is no easy task and, so often, I fail to live up to it. When people show you incredible kindness, it is easy to be kind in return. When people are friendly, responsible, capable, and don’t argue when you tell them they have late fines, it is easy to show them love.
But people are hard. They’re messy, complicated, and difficult.