The library director said in a recent staff meeting that she likes working the circulation desk with me because I know everyone. And to her it may just seem like that. We have a lot of regulars that come to the library on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Often I will comment on a book if I've read it or even just read about it and I'm frequently asked to recommend new books or authors for them to try. I have to scan their card to check them out and after so many scans and saying "Thank you [insert name here]" I remember their name.
First, I heard or read somewhere that if you know someone's name you have power over them. And since Nickel made me watch Spiderman movies, I know that with great power comes great responsibility so I don't abuse this power but if someone is not behaving as they should (a particular teenager comes to my mind) I can walk up to them, call them by name, and explain to them the behavior that is not acceptable and they are more likely to stop said bad behavior. It doesn't always work but in the case with that particular teenager it did. He was so impressed that I knew his name that he hasn't acted up since. Now when he comes into the library he says hello to me and encourages his friends to behave!
Second, knowing someone's name a way to form a relationship and friendship. Like Cheers only at a library. I don't know anyone named Norm though, sadly. And I do form friendships with patrons. I think it makes people feel good when they walk up to the desk to pick up a book they placed on hold and without them even saying anything I've pulled their book off the hold shelf and start up a conversation. I've got to know some patrons well enough that I've loaned out my personal books, text them about any and everything, share my reading logs from Goodreads, talk to them on Facebook, exchanged recipes, and played with their kids!
Speaking of kids, I'll tell you a little secret, my favorite patrons are the ones that are 0-6 years old. The babies I adore mostly because I don't have one that small to play with anymore and it'll be a long time (hopefully 15-20 years) before i have grandkids. The toddlers are fun because they're just getting into books and stories.
But the 4-6 year olds are the best! These kids tell me WONDERFUL stories. One day a boy of 6 or 7 years checked out a few books and he said to me, 'are you Butter's mom?' (Ok, he used Butter's real name but this is a semi-private blog so just pretend with me here.) I of course said, 'Yes! I'm Butter's mom. How did you know?' It turns out he goes to the same daycare. Kids see everything.
Another day another young man brought up his books to check out. I asked him what he was reading about that day and he told me animals. I told him I like animals too except for gnats and flies, but I like cats and dogs and I like giraffes because they have long necks and I think that's pretty cool. He told me all about how a giraffe licked him one time at the zoo. He was pretty proud of that.
One day two girls came in with their mother and were so excited because they had just found out that their mom was going to have a boy! They hadn't even had a chance to tell their grandparents yet. In fact I was the first one besides them to know that they were going to have a brother. That's quite an honor, even if I was just the first person they had spoken to after hearing such wonderful news. Now when they come in I ask them, 'When is that baby brother going to get here?' And they cheerfully tell me 'November!' and of course I act like I just can't wait to see him because neither can they.
Today a toe-headed boy came up to the desk with his grandfather. He told me about how he and his 7 cousins were going to spend the night at his grandparent's house next weekend. We decided that that was going to be a lot of fun. He was very polite. It made me a little sad that Butter doesn't talk to me like this boy did though.
I'm going to miss some of these kids when school starts and they're too busy to come to the library but hopefully they'll be back next summer. And I know there are kids that were too busy to come to the library over the summer that will be back when school starts. 'Tis a cycle, I suppose. But these kids and even the adults that I've gotten to know make my job so much fun!