Books really are a metaphor for life’s adventures

By Janene Hill, Young Adult Librarian

When starting a book, the anticipation can be tremendous.
Who will these characters be? Which ones will I like/love/despise? Where will the story take me? Will there be adventure? Tragedy? Laughter? Tears?
If we are lucky, a few chapters in we have settled in with good friends, in a familiar setting. We have become comfortable in this new world. We can’t wait to see what each turn of the page will bring.
We’ve settled in and become comfortable. Yes, twists and turns in the plot may make us anxious, but with luck, our heroes/heroines will come out of the situation without too much damage. Though they, and we, may not see it for some time, hopefully they have learned and grown from their ventures.
Then, many times before we know it, the story is coming to a close. We begin to realize we will soon have to let go of all of the people, places, and things to which we have become attached. We know the end our time with them is near.
Then, it is over. You put the book down and reflect on everything that just happened. Whether it took a few hours or a few weeks for us to get through the story, if it is one we enjoyed, it is a bittersweet moment. We hope for a sequel, but know that more often than not, this is the end.
Now we can only imagine what happens next. For our favorite characters, we imagine greatness in their future. Happiness, love, and all good things.
I’m sure I am not the first person to realize that books really do reflect life. Even if the adventures are way beyond anything we would actually experience in real life, the jest of the scenario is relatable.
Such is true for me this week.
After six and a half years as Young Adult Librarian at Manhattan Public Library, I say goodbye this week to head off to the next adventure in my career.
From my first day at MPL, I have always known this was a special position at a special library. In my time we have been able to take the Young Adult area from a single isle of books in a far corner, to a welcoming section with seating, displays, and a booming programming schedule.
While I am apprehensive about leaving MPL, I take comfort in knowing that staff and teens will work to keep the programs going and continue to build this crucial area.
So many people have worked alongside me over the past few years to encourage teen reading and get teens active at the library that I could never thank them all; but I hope the next YA Librarian at MPL will have the wonderful experiences that I did in meeting teens, community members, educators, parents, and all those involved in other community organizations.
The hardest thing for me this week will be to say farewell to some teens I have known for many years now. When I came some were just approaching middle school, and now those same kids are in their last year(s) of high school. I have seen so many of them grow into wonderful young men and ladies and can’t wait to hear about all of their accomplishments in the near future.
Looking back on the first time I ever wrote this column as a staff member at MPL, I was able to speak more about what a Young Adult Librarian is and what they do.
I pointed out that telling someone you work with teenagers causes one of three reactions:  fear, sympathy, or confusion. To this day, that is still true.
However, I am now able to add in the description of my job that “my” teens are so much fun and appreciate me for who I am and what I can do for them that every day is an adventure, and every time I get to be around the teens I learn more about teens, about my job, and about myself. Working with teenagers for more than nine years has given me a unique perspective on the world, one which I believe keeps me young.
The volume of my life that has taken place around Manhattan Public Library has been a good one. With lots of twists and turns, but ultimately with a happy ending that leaves us all looking forward to what happens next.
With all this in mind, I leave you with a quote I recently found by Terry Pratchett in his YA book Nation.
“No more words. We know them all, all the words that should not be said. But you have made my world more perfect.”

Posted in: For Teens, Mercury Column

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