It seemed to me that it was time I started doing something for the community, so when a notice appeared in my church bulletin that the elementary school next door was looking for volunteers in the school library, I answered the call. Being around books was right up my alley.
I don't remember there being a library in my elementary school in the late 1940s. And if we had had one, I expect there would have been a few of The Bobbsey Twins books, maybe Alice in Wonderland or Peter Rabbit. Maybe even The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries and perhaps a few reference books.
Two weeks ago I walked into the elementary school in La Mesa, CA to start my volunteer duties. The room was open and airy, a rug covered the floor in the reading area, large bean bag chairs and stuffed animals provided comfortable places to curl up for reading. Along one wall was a bank of computers and next to them were tables and chairs filled with kids busily writing stories on laptops. At any given time, there were at least twenty kids in the library engaged in reading or writing, some of them opting to spend their recess time in the library rather than on the playground.
The librarian has made this room a welcoming haven for the kids. A journalist herself, she is teaching this future generation how to make a newspaper as well as teaching them to write their own stories. The shelves are filled with books that appeal to today's kids. The books are more mature and message oriented than I remember from that age (assuming I can still remember anything from that long ago!). The kids in this school have a thirst for books unlike anything you can imagine.
My first two weeks there, I was put to work shelving books which gave me a good idea of what the kids are reading now. This last week, I was at a table stamping and applying bar codes to the new books that had come in. By the time I was done, I had over a hundred books ready to be shelved so the kids could check them out. One boy, maybe fifth or sixth grade, was sitting at a laptop composing a story. Whenever I glanced over at him, I caught him looking at me. We started smiling at each other. He looked at the stack I had completed and asked the librarian, "Did she do all those books?" The librarian said, "Yes, she sure did." Kids gathered around to read the new titles, looking forward to being able to check them out. The boy got up from his chair, came over and gave me a big hug! They say you don't get paid for volunteer work, but I got paid this week, in a BIG way.
My new book, Twelve Steps to Becoming an Author: A Writer's Guide, will be perfect for this new generation of readers and writers when they get just a little older.
Life is an opportunity, benefit from it - Mother Theresa
Travel Tip: Visit a library. You just might be amazed.