I am not allowed to push non-fiction carts anymore because they’re too big for my 4’11” frame to handle.

That is one of the innumerable things I’ve learned in my four-year run working at the Wilton Library. It’s been the same for a very long time — Fridays at 4, I clock in just as one of the wonderful custodians brings in the “book bin” from outside, I check the items in, and then shelve them on the carts behind the circulation desk. Saturdays I stroll in around 10 and take my place at the children’s circulation desk alongside any one of five delightful members of the children’s department staff. It’s routine, it’s cozy, and it’s a job I can look forward to.

Because my Friday shift is mostly just me and about 150 books in the circulation office (coupled with friendly conversation, recipe sharing, and movie and book recommendations from those working the circulation desk), it’s not the easiest thing to discuss in detail and get all mushy about. Don’t get me wrong, that alone time and the therapeutic rhythm of scanner beeps to cap off a long school week is very cathartic and much needed — but you’ll see what I mean.

When I grow up (that’s fun to still say — about a month out from my 18th birthday) I want to be an elementary school teacher. I dream of creating curriculum teaching kids to love reading, writing, and history, and problem solving to help them understand math and science. So when I learned I could get a head start working with kids and growing that love of learning, I leapt to it. Every Saturday morning when I come into work I have a new and creative project or task — which can’t be said for many lines of part-time work. These projects range anywhere from filling up the “guess-how-many” jar with anything I can find in the craft closet, to cutting out paper owls for an upcoming Harry Potter event, to creating an entire book display for an author or holiday, to crafting my own White House replica out of paper and pipe cleaners! And these tasks are solely the projects I’m assigned.

My favorite part of the job, though, is answering questions. Sometimes it’s a freckle-faced fourth grader looking for the next book of his favorite series, and sometimes it’s the parent of a rosy-cheeked four-year-old looking for the first book she’ll ever read on her own. I love helping them because I get to play a part in their journey with one of my favorite activities in the world. When I was little, you could not wrestle a book out of my tiny hands. There are pictures of me reading on a pool deck at my pre-school while the other kids got swimming lessons — I said I was afraid of the water but I think I just wanted more time to read. So being able to lead kids in finding books that allow them to get lost in those stories is something I cherish.

Reading is, and will always be, a part of who I am. The fact that I can work in an environment that fosters a love of reading in myself, the other employees, and members of the community (big and small!) is really special to me. Even after I leave Wilton for school, I will take along a piece of the Wilton Library and the lessons it taught me. So next time you stop in to check out a book or pay an overdue fee (I know you have one), stop and say hi to me (I look like that gaping picture at the top of this article!) or any other librarians, and remember this — we just want to help.


Brooke Amodei is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with four classmates.