I sometimes get comments from people who are surprised that I’m a Children’s Librarian AND a climber. It’s like I’m a superhero hiding some kind of secret identity.
As Meredith said in a previous post, I do love my job. Unlike some climbers I know, I’m not someone who blows off work to go climb. Not lightly, anyway.
I believe what I do is a calling. Libraries are not only information and access hubs, they provide one of the last noncommercial public spaces in our communities. In a world that is bought and sold, libraries are our common pasture of the mind where everything is free and anyone is welcome.
I also believe in libraries as the sacred keeper of the American story. In a world of strife and conflict, I know the power of story to build compassion, to allow us to walk in someone else’s shoes, to experience adventures through imagination. Stories and ideas sit side by side on the shelf, our website and in our meeting rooms. The concept of public computers and open wifi started in public libraries. Libraries are not only places to access stories and ideas, but places where anyone, regardless, can share their own story and be part of the American conversation.
My job is intense, full of wonder and full of meaning.
The mountains are also intense and full of wonder and yet, climbing is meaningless.
I’m not bothered by this at all. I like this dichotomy. Being a Children’s Librarian is all about community and democracy. Being a climber is about… well, I don’t know what it’s about. I’m still figuring it out. Climbing is the “because it’s there (George Mallory)” mentality. Climbers are “the conquistadors of the useless (Lionel Terray).” Climbing on an amateur level, especially, seems like a pure act of the absurd present. It reminds me how unimportant I am.
At work, I save lives. Whether it’s through services to the poor, homeless, new Americans, first time mothers, latch-key kids or any person who has lost their way in the world of ideas and needs to find a place. And everyday, I’m showing children through the power of story and a love of reading a path to compassion, understanding and adventure.
So, I guess I am a superhero, but it may not be what you had thought. I’m a superhero in glasses, frumpy sweaters and sensible shoes. At night and on my days off, when the spandex, helmets, ice tools and ropes come out, I’m just a “dirtbag.”