Gimme your stories & etc.


Your LOTY story

Have you all been following #libraryoftheyear on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, et al? In our social media campaign for LOTY, I’m trying to capture some insight into the people and the relationships that define our library. Our customers are LOVING it. But I’m only one person, and can only go interview/shoot one or two library staff people per week to feature online, and that’s frustrating. I want you all to contribute.

So, gimme your stories.

  • Tell me about a time the scales fell from your eyes while you helped a customer, and you learned something more about yourself or about compassion or about why your job is important.
  • Tell me something funny that happened at work that still conjures a smile when you think about it (appropriate or inappropriate – I’m a big girl and an editor, so I want all of it).
  • Tell me why you wanted to work here in the first place and what makes you get up every day and return here again and again. Or why you come here even when it’s your day off.

This is what Linda told me: “Recently, a man came in who was having family in town from abroad. He only had a short time window to visit with this family member, and it was important to him that they watch a particular movie together. I was able to help him find the movie. Sometimes it’s just the little things.”

Yes! Everyone has a little story to tell, and that’s why our customers are sitting up and paying attention when we allow our Humans of the LOTY to tell their little stories – because they identify with those stories and feel a connection.

Send me an email or comment here if you want everyone to see. No story is too little or too long. For real. No hesitation; just do it!


What am I going to do with your stories? As I mentioned above, I can’t cover every staff member with a feature on social media, because, impossible. But I want to put together an epic post/article/something documenting your stories. And I’d like to eke them out over time in tweets and grams and posts.

A couple more dispatches for you today that are mostly unrelated:

  1. I will probably refer to you as a librarian even if you aren’t one, and this is because Diana believes – and rightly so, I think – that most customers don’t discern between whether a person who works with the public at the library has an MLS or not. We are all “librarians” in the eyes of the public. We could work to educate the public that there are actually different types of library workers with different levels of education and experience, but we’d rather continue to work to get people to attend events and check out stuff.

Son of a “librarian”

Recently I had lunch with my 7-year-old son at his school and he proudly announced to his friends, “This is my mom. She’s a librarian!” and all these little kids crowded around me to tell me their little library stories. I wasn’t going to correct him. Yeah, I let a bunch of 7 & 8-year-olds think I was a librarian for a minute. I felt like a total rock star.

2. Now that we have BiblioCommons, I’d love it if y’all would tout yourselves a bit more. Add a link to your BC profile in your signature, like so:

Leah Sewell
Communications Editor | 785-580-4487 | Follow me on the catalog!
Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library
1515 SW 10th Avenue, Topeka, KS 66604
2016 Library of the Year

Or put it in your bio on the public site, share with your Facebook pals, etc.

Thoughts? Comments? Stories?!


13 thoughts on “Gimme your stories & etc.

  1. “Where do you keep all your books on Victorian Post-Mortem Photography?” This is my favorite question of all times, and one I was woefully unequipped to answer. As you can imagine, before photography was widely available to the average person, people didn’t have the kinds of visual memorabilia we do today in order to remember loved ones. Most folks couldn’t afford to commission a painted portrait either, so, as photography became accessible to the average person, grieving families would commission photographs of the recently deceased as a remembrance, and a treasured family possession.

    That said, in today’s sanitized world, images of the dead are a bit shocking, so my first reaction to this woman’s question, was a nervous giggle as I thought to myself, “Yikes! I’m not sure we’ll even have ONE book much less a PLACE where we keep ALL those books.” But, to our credit, we do have a deep well of knowledge in the people who work here, and luckily, I remembered that Valerie Reif is a Victorian Era buff and would be able to help this woman find something to satisfy her curiosity.

    I called Valerie at another desk and explained the situation. Breathlessly, she said, “I’ll be right over!” The two women headed off into the stacks talking excitedly about “daguerreotypes” and “mourning portraiture”. A while later, I passed them in the stacks, heads together, pouring over books that, due to their closeness, thankfully, I could not see.

    Get to know your co-workers, so you know where the expertise lies in our library. I don’t have to know everything, or scour every resource myself in order to help someone fine the information they want or need, people are resources too. Librarians love to connect people with information, and the best way to learn is to talk with someone who is as passionate about sharing as you are about learning.

    • Autumn Friedli on said:

      Meg just won the intranet. I love that story. Knowing each other’s strengths, Weaknesses, and favorite reads make this job not just easier, but interesting.
      **typing on my phone, please excuse my errors

      • Leah Sewell on said:

        For the record, Meg also emailed me a wildly inappropriate story that had all of Creative Group howling with laughter, so she won the Outlook yesterday too.

    • betty-neal on said:

      I still have copies of the pictures of my aunt Myrtle in her coffin at age 6. She died in 1927, when my mom was only 4.

  2. Lissa Staley on said:

    This is a bit of an easy answer, but to the customers, EVERY SINGLE TIME they ask for help getting the next book in the The Hunger Games or Harry Potter or Diary of a Wimpy Kid or the new Bill O’Reilly book or the new Star Wars movie and I am able to hand them that THING – that one thing that they really wanted and came in that day to get – for them, it’s a magical moment every single time. It may be the hundredth time I’ve handed someone Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but for that customer, it’s amazing.

    • I love that too, Lissa! I also love it when they leave knowing they can do something for themselves, because they’ve learned to navigate the neighborhoods and the Dewey decimal system, or successfully used a database for research, or discovered all the things you can do with Bibliocommons from home.

  3. michelle-morris on said:

    A while back at the Red Carpet desk a very sweet older patron was chatting with me about how she wanted to take up painting, and was trying to find some books to help with this. She told me about a book she had heard of, Fifty Shades of Grey, and asked if I knew anything about this book? Did I think this book would be helpful with her learning to paint. I assured her that particular book was not about painting. She then, of course, asked what is it about then? I’m sure my face was fifty shades of red as I proceeded to very briefly try to summarize that book.

  4. dianne-elrichs on said:

    my story is that I was getting as library card for a new patron and told her she had the name of my favorite young adult fantasy author, She knew which one I referred to which led to me stating we had his new title just come in that day. She went to youth services where they placed the item on hold. I went down to the workroom few minutes later happened to find the book and found her right outside of youth services. She was very excited to get it. One month later she spotted me at the customer service desk and made a point of stopping in and telling me how thrilled she was with the book and happy with our service.

  5. Natalie Moreland on said:

    A few days ago a toddler made me “soup cake” in the play kitchen. Delicious! Today I went on an undersea adventure with some preschoolers. We had to roar to scare away the shark that was chasing us!