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The World’s Youngest Librarian

I just spent a week with my family. One of the great pleasures of coming home, besides reminding everyone that I grew up to be an Alpha while they are swimming along the comforting currents of kindness and polite society, is looking through old photos. Like the one below.

Josh Hanagarne

Grandmaster Josh and the Furious Four

I was already showing all the signs of a librarian in training. The giant, bent glasses, the buck teeth, the hideous sweater, the posse of hardcore siblings, the gleaming eyes that were gleaming either with curiosity or the early trappings of non-fame that come with being a professional researcher.

That boy in the back row was destined for great things. Also, non-great things.  Whenever people would enter his library and relieve themselves on the floor, he would ask them to stop. Then they would ignore him. He would think of the culprits as “The Unapooper.”

Many years later when the woman would flash him in the 616 section on Level 3 of the Salt Lake City Public Library, he would avert his eyes…eventually. Actually, maybe that’s the gleam in his eye. He looks like he’s anticipating good things.

When he was put in charge of supervising a library cart full of tattered books, he would show the world he was playing for keeps.

When the woman with the Oompa Loompa tan and various plastic enhancements squeezed his arm in the biography section, he would look down and say, “Can I help you?” The woman replied, “I don’t know…” with a slo-mo wink. Then he would say, “Does that ever work?” Then she would storm out in a cyclone of hips and hair extensions. And orange skin.

When the public would come to deal drugs in the library’s restrooms, he would call security and then wait for the shouts to start.

When he was called a “tall bigot” for asking someone to stop ranting about Jews, he would laugh until he started crying, enraging his accuser.

I’m pretty sure that in this picture I had paperback fantasy books in my pockets. If I didn’t, they were surely in the coat I took to the photo shoot. I never went anywhere without them.

It occurs to me every day that I was never cut out for anything but what I am currently doing for work. It’s a relief and a pleasure to be able to say I know what I like and that I do what I love. I’m a librarian.

It was a good week. I hope you all had fun wherever you spent Christmas or whatever it is you do.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Heather December 29, 2010, 9:08 am

    Josh, I used to mark numbers on the insides of all my books, and my shelves always had to be arranged by author’s last name, then the first “real” word in the title (excluding articles, the way it’s supposed to be). I went a step further, though, and this annoying habit still persists. It’s even gotten easier with Microsoft Word’s cut-and-paste feature—I love to type works cited and bib pages, preferably in MLA format. I know. . . I know. . . sick and wrong. . . but I’m also one of those twisted sorts who loves to catalog, too. Thanks for sharing this. 🙂

  • Todd December 29, 2010, 9:33 am

    Defecating patrons, flashers… You’re like the T.J. Hooker of the public library.

    • Josh Hanagarne December 30, 2010, 3:29 pm

      I never thought of it like that. I think you’re right.

  • Tomas December 29, 2010, 1:44 pm

    You were a tall kid, weren’t you?

  • Boris December 29, 2010, 8:56 pm

    Awesome pic – great post. Happy New Year Josh.

  • Susan Garvey December 30, 2010, 9:29 am

    Josh: What a gift to be able to work at who you are and so clearly enjoy it. And what a gift to be able to share it in such an articulate way with others. I always tell my kids, it doesn’t matter what they do in life – to be a true success do what makes you happy!

  • Paul Andrew Russell December 30, 2010, 3:53 pm

    And there was I thinking being a librarian was a quiet job. 🙂 You certainly met some characters.

    All the best for the New Year Josh.