This changes libraries

A month or so after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh and moving back to my hometown, restless and jobless, I was on my way home from a beach trip with a friend. We were discussing career possibilities. At one point, I said something along the lines of, “I think it might be fun working at a library, but I’m also afraid doing it as a job will take the joy out of it, you know?” 

Her immediate response was, “Oh Kati, I think you’d love working at a library!”

Her enthusiasm eased some of my hesitation, so the next day I found myself perusing the employment page of the local library system’s website. Lo and behold, there was an opening at my very own branch, the one minutes from my home that I had often sought refuge in during my time at community college. I submitted my application and had an interview almost immediately, and within a month I was hired. 

Thankfully, my friend turned out to be correct.

Two and a half years later, my job has yet to lose its joy.

If anything, I have only come to love the library more as I have seen how vital a role it plays in my community by providing educational resources, technological access, and opportunities for relationship building that might not otherwise be available to everyone. 

My time at the library is split between two departments: circulation and youth services. As a circulation assistant, my primary function is to sit behind the front desk, greet patrons as they enter, and handle all their questions and transactions—all while juggling the steady stream of books, DVDs, audiobooks, magazines, and other materials coming in and out of the library. A typical circ shift might also include assisting a student in locating a book for class, teaching someone how to use the copier, and answering numerous phone calls, usually about book renewals or upcoming programs.

As a youth program coordinator, I work with a team to plan events and activities for children, teenagers, and families in our community. I read to kids in local organizations like schools and daycare. I read books aloud in my most animated voice to kids as young as a month and as old as ten years. The most anticipated part of these story times is “Shaky Egg Time,” where I break out a bunch of bead-filled, plastic eggs (two for each child, although I’ve seen them sneak as many as four) and dance without abandon to the Wiggles.

Attending Jubilee and being involved in the CCO during my time at the University of Pittsburgh gave me a better grasp of how knowing Jesus changes everything about the way we live, especially as it pertains to our vocations.

The ability to honor God in our work isn’t exclusively reserved for people in positions of service or ministry, a lie I believed for too long. We can bring glory to Him in any role, as long as we work at it with our whole heart (Colossians 3:23) and acknowledge His provision along the way (Proverbs 16:9).

My favorite part about working for a library is the diversity of people I encounter on a daily basis. At any given moment, I might have the opportunity to help a frazzled mother of three young children, a patron with special needs, a Spanish-speaking patron looking for ESL resources, a kid learning to use the card catalogue to find the next book in his favorite series, or an elderly woman attempting to print pictures of her grandchildren from Facebook. Each one of these people is fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of our loving Father, and it’s a privilege to serve them even for a handful of seconds.

I can bring glory to God while sitting in a rocking chair reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar to a group of wide-eyed toddlers at my feet. I can show His love to someone by patiently walking them through the process of sending a document to the printer, by offering book recommendations to someone looking for their next read, or by watercoloring beside a timid child and asking them questions about themselves.

During my commute each morning (most recently with Chronicles of Narnia audiobooks playing in the background), I ask God to give me compassion for each and every person who walks into the library that day. This doesn’t always come naturally, especially since I generally lives up to the stereotype of a librarian who prefers the company of books and cats over people. Sometimes I leave work feeling like I should have said more or done more, or like maybe the part I play in God’s kingdom isn’t all that significant.

Thankfully, that’s where this thing called grace comes into play.

Kati Davis graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with an English Writing degree in 2016. She was introduced to the CCO by a good friend from her hometown church who “blazed the Pitt trail before me and found Cornerstone campus ministry his freshman year.” Kati currently works at the Avon Grove Library in West Grove, Pennsylvania.