Sunday, March 21, 2010

Another Reason Why Librarians Make A Difference

Last week I spent a considerable amount of time in waiting rooms at MD Anderson Hospital waiting rooms at the Mays Clinic Breast Cancer Center. Anybody who has been through a big hospital like this knows to expect waiting, and I was well prepared with gizmos. I was witness to a very compelling little drama at one point. I kept noticing a young boy who looked about 10 and was wandering around, appearing a bit lost. I thought maybe he was with one of the volunteers because he never seemed to be talking to anyone who was seated in the area. Finally he concentrated his wanderings to the area where the volunteers had a plate of cookies and some heart shaped pillows, which they give away to patients. One of the volunteers smiled at him and said, "Would you like a cookie?" I could not hear what he said but it was clear that they then engaged in a conversation, and that he was worried about his mother, who was back in one of the rooms. The lady was offering him some tips on how he could help her by cheering her up, giving her support, helping out with chores, helping her with healthy diet, etc. Then another lady came up and started talking with him too. The librarian in me could not be restrained. I went up to the first lady and said, "I see your friend has questions." She said yes. When she asked him if he wanted a cookie he said "No, but I have a question...How can they make my mother's cancer go away?" I said, "You should tell him to talk to his school librarian. She can find him books on his level that help answer his questions and also help him deal with his mother's illness." She did ask him and he said that he did know and like his librarian and that he would do that. Then one of the ladies took him downstairs to the Learning Center for some written information. He had been researching on the Internet, but clearly wanted to TALK to someone who could give him the information he sought. He was 9 years old. I commented on his maturity and spunk for coming up and asking them questions. She laughed and said he told her, "I may be little but I have a BIG HEAD." She said, "Are you trying to tell me you are smart?" and he said YES. She told him that she was sure he could help his mom just by being himself and being there for her. If you are a librarian you know that children of all ages come in with questions about their loved ones' health issues, and about their own health as well. They need and deserve to have a caring adult who will not only hand over the right book but also be there as someone to listen and give support. This is one of the many things school librarians do very well.

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