12th grade at Athens High School
My first impression of the Athens Public Library was not of its books, but of delicious cookies. I moved from Columbus to Athens in fifth grade. One day, coming home from school, my parents presented my younger brother and me with a delicious platter of cookies. They told us that a kindly librarian, seeing them check out a desserts cookbook, had given them her own family recipe without hesitation. That is what makes the Athens Public Library special. The librarians aren’t just librarians; they become close friends and companions.
Usually, most libraries are bound to have one or two of these kinds of amazing, compassionate librarians. But it’s exceptionally rare to have a library where the entire staff is comprised of such caring and kind individuals. Yet, that is the kind of library the Athens Public Library is. The librarians here comment on your choices at the checkout desk and take the time to give you recommendations, guiding you to this shelf and that. I remember another time when my parents were checking out a copper arts and crafts book from the library. The librarian at the checkout desk immediately gave my family the name and address of a skilled copper artisan in Athens, recommending that we talk to the man if we needed help. The checkout desks at the Columbus Metropolitan Library that I used to visit were stifling: a dozen or so families moving through quietly, while the expressionless librarians methodically stamped each of our books and ushered us away with the mechanical “Have a nice day,” already turning to the next person in line. In contrast, at the Athens Public Library checkout desk, I can always count on the librarians there for an interesting conversation or a friendly greeting. One day, I saw a librarian teach an old lady how to use the Internet. Together, they sat at a computer, and the librarian walked the woman through using the browser step by step. Even when the old lady became confused, the librarian continued to help, answering question after question patiently. At that moment, I thought back to the library of my childhood, and the steely faces of the old checkout line. Then I looked again at the happy old lady and the kindly librarian. That is what makes the Athens Public Library special.