Friday, May 1, 2009

There Is Life after 500,000

I don't think that the Hooper-Goetincks walked in expecting to make a little NPL history, but when they approached the circulation desk, they must have realized that something was up.

There was Board President Barry Rotman, watching intently. Lisa Milchman was checking out a stack of materials excitedly. What was the deal? Mom Carolyn's raised eyebrows seemed to ask as staff members gathered round.

Lisa flipped a computer window and stood back. There, in the statistical window of the circulation program stood the number, round and firm: 500,000!

She shared the news with Carolyn (right), Dylan (center), and Blake (left). Then came the prizes: a gift certificate to the Norwich Book Store, a bar of Champlain chocolate, a wooden nickel for dismissing a fine, served up in a bright blue NPL bag with a balloon bouquet attached. We all applauded.

Library confidentiality policies prohibit me from revealing the title of the point-tipping check-out. The Goetincks are prolific patrons, anyway. It almost doesn't matter what the title was, or which of their many actually pushed us over the finish line. They're mad readers, all of them.

After the glow of the moment passed and the Hooper-Goetincks continued on their errands, we savored the spike of energy, then felt it drop a little. Now what? some part of me asked. It wasn't even lunchtime yet. Talk about an anticlimax!

The feeling moved on. My desk was covered with a teetering tower of new books and a few DVDs. They needed entering into the state system and labels applied. I flipped through Don Metz's New Compact House Designs and resolved to check out "Frost/Nixon" when it comes out of cataloging. Ditto with reading The Artist's Way, and this weekend I'll find a new block pattern in Quick Quilts from the Heart. YES!

500,000 is a number, and like other steps in a sequence, it's quickly bested by succeeding ones. Still, it tells us that we're being used, that we have a role to play in this community, and it's a role we rejoice in playing.