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A few days ago a woman came to the reference desk to complain. Why is it, she asked, that we have tons of books about Islam and Buddhism, but few about Christianity?
I tried to point out how many books we do have about all religions, but she was not satisfied. Where were books by Billy Graham, she asked. So I showed her that we had books by him. She was still not satisfied. Then she asked who was responsible for ordering books. I told her that it was centralized ordering, not in the hands of the individual branch. She did not seem to believe me. She asked me why it was that they would order so many books on Buddhism and Islam and not enough on Christianity. (Her words.) I made the mistake of conjecturing that maybe they ordered books according to the demographics of the neighborhood, and that this neighborhood is heavily Asian and Pakistani. At this (pure guess) she raised her eyebrows. Then she looked me up and down. And asked me if I was Muslim.
I am not Muslim, but I really wish I had told her, yes, I am. Or that I had asked her, How does it matter?
Yesterday was quite stressful at the library. I came home soul-exhausted. There were some incorrigible customers who seemed to relish putting the librarian through her paces. But on second thought, there were some thought-provoking and delightful encounters that made the day well worth living. Here are some highlights.
Two Pakistani-American girls befriended me at the children’s desk. One of them shadowed me all day and even helped with reference transactions. I think it made her feel grown-up and responsible. The best part was when we were talking about how bad my spoken Hindi/Urdu is. I explained to them that Hindi isn’t my mother tongue. Then they asked me where I come from. India, I replied. We silently digested the fact that “our countries” are having some “problems” at the moment. One of them said, Read the rest of this entry »