For the last few weeks, I’ve quietly been working in my own library.
I think I’ve always harbored a secret desire to be a librarian albeit without the ambition to actually seek the necessary credentials. Back in September of 2010, I wrote a post about “legacy,” wondering just what mine would be here in Mongolia, and for the first time in my 504 days in country I have at least a glimpse of what that might be. 311 books covering an array of topics and reading levels, along with 16 English-Mongolian, Mongolian-English dictionaries now have a home in a small (somehow perpetually cold) room on the second floor of Tsogttsetsii’s seconday school. The room doubles as an office for the social worker, but every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, the library is “open” for business–and, the librarian is none other than yours truly.
Mongolia has this terrible habit of locking books in cabinets. If I was going to go to the trouble of gathering these resources, I wanted to be sure that they would actually be used, and as with many things in life, if you want to get it done you have to do it yourself. So, I’ve set aside six hours every week to making sure these resources are truly available. The look of unbridled amazement on my first customers was by far an ample reward. “You mean, I can take any of them?” asked one girl, in Mongolian. “Of course,” I said, “anything you like.” For the first few weeks, students usually picked the largest and glossiest books they could find, with no regard to content. I’ve seen Moby Dick checked out on many an occasion, at which point I just smile and tell them that it is in fact my favorite book. Slowly though, students are developing a discerning eye for the books they pick, not just choosing a book by its cover.
There are more books on the way as well. Friends and family at home have taken it upon themselves to help me make this little library project a success. If you feel like you’ve got some simple children’s books laying around at home and can spare a little extra cash for postage, let me know through the blog here and I’ll send you an address where you can ship your extra books.