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The Amazing Power of Libraries: A Holiday Story, With Gumdrops, Even

[Note: there is absolutely no way I can improve on this message, which just came across the transom to PUBLIB, the 7,000-member discussion list for public librarians, so I’ll just shut up and let the message speak for itself. Please share — and a most joyous, and thoughtful, holiday to each and every one of you.]

[Publib] Heartwarming story of the season

John Richmond
Tue Dec 23 11:57:52 EST 2008

Sorry, no Friday humor, but just to make you feel all warm and gooey
inside, here is a true story.  I can't say that the names have been
changed, because I don't even know the name of the patron involved, or
his wife.  If you think this is gooey and warm enough to melt the
hearts of taxpaying citizens whose votes you're trying to get to
finance, say, a referendum, you have permission to claim the story as
your own, and make up any names you want.  No copyrighting,
trademarking, or anything else here.

On Thursday we held our annual staff-board Christmas (yes, we still
use that word here in the Heartland) and longevity awards luncheon.
We close from 11:30am-1:30pm.  Just outside the door to the large
meeting room where we party, a staff member had placed a small table
with a tray of different candies and nuts.  Including gumdrops (or
spicedrops, if you prefer).  Not too long after 1:30, we had
re-opened, but post-luncheon clean-up was still underway.

Two elderly, semi-frail gentlemen on their way out of the library
stopped, looked at the table of stuff that is bad for one's teeth and
waistline, and helped themselves to what, theoretically, was not
theirs, but who cares, it's the *holidays*, etc.  One of the men asked
me if he could have some of the gum/spicedrops to take home to his
wife, as "she just loves those spicedrops."  Not your everyday
question, but someone found a container of some sort and dropped drops
into said container.  I believe that the man borrowed a bit of
chocolate, too, and the two men left.  The man who asked for the
gum/spicedrops did mention that it was hard for his wife to get out
and about.

Yesterday he came back and went to circ to check something out.  He
stood around for awhile, visiting with the circ manager and whoever
else was there, lingering longer than one might ordinarily linger, and
finally--the truth came out.  He wondered if we had any more of those
gum/spice drops, because his wife was so happy to get them.  Circ
manager, thinking quickly--once she knew what was up--said, "Don't
worry.  We will *get* you some more gum drops."  The man left.  Last
night circ mgr bought a bag of gum/spicedrops.  She telephoned the
patron's home this morning, the wife answered, and circ mgr said, "We
have a delivery for you."  The woman sounded amazed and/or confused,
but said fine.

So the circ mgr went with two other staff members and delivered the
bag of gum/spicedrops, sang a Christmas carol, and visited for about
half an hour.  Turns out that the woman is on oxygen 24/7 and is
practically confined to home.  There are three children and their
families, but they're all far away, and the elderly couple is going to
be alone for Christmas.

The funny thing is that, after five-plus years of talking about
delivery to the homebound, we're finally taking steps to work on such
a project...but our first delivery was a bag of candy to an elderly
couple, home alone.

I give staff credit for, as they say in Jargon, Excellent Customer
Service (ECS--wonder why we, who love acronyms and initialisms, don't
speak of ECS...or maybe we do, and I've just been oblivious).


John Richmond, Director
Alpha Park Public Library District
3527 So. Airport Road
Bartonville, IL 61607

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