This past spring I was a substitute teacher for a while. Since my specialty is junior and senior high English, that’s where I tried to spend most of my time, although I did end up in a grade 1 class one day, and teaching gym (!!!) another. Subbing is not my favourite thing to do (because you don’t know the students, and the best thing about teaching English is talking to people about books, and if you don’t KNOW the people then when you try to talk about books with them they look at you as if you had two heads, because they are teenagers and that’s how teenagers are), but it paid the bills for a couple of months so I sucked it up.
One day I got called in to a high school in the south – one with a good reputation, but a big old box of a falling-down place nonetheless. The board I work for has a policy that subs can help out in other parts of the school on an as-needed basis when they’re not actually teaching, and on the day in question I was asked to help out in the library.
You can imagine my joy. At the end of a day surrounded by angsty teens, in which one class had a food fight and another spent their English period trying to set one another on fire, I was asked to sit in the back room of a library and label books for an hour and a half, with nothing but my iPod for company.
Anyway, the librarian and I got to talking (because one of my secret ambitions is to become a librarian and I really, really like them) about the sheer size and weight of a collection of books. I’ve been packing up my books in preparation for the big move later this summer, and I’m a little shocked at the sheer quantity of them. The librarian asked me how many books I own, and I admitted to about three thousand, give or take.
I knew I had found my spiritual home when, instead of acting horrified like most people do, she nodded and said, “That’s a good start for a personal collection.”