I'm sitting here typing away, surprised another month has gone by and June is already up.
June is the month where Puanga, the Maori New Year, is celebrated. Traditionally the star Puanga appeared at the end of the harvest and June is a time for manaakitanga, hospitality, kindness, sharing and presenting offerings to others.
June is also a special month to me since it's when the winter solstice occurs. It's magical to know that even though the eye can scarcely perceive it, the days are lengthening after June 21 and yes, we are heading for summer once again. Let the countdown begin.
One of the things I've always enjoyed about working in a library is seeing books being borrowed and returned and the interactions around this. I like to know what other people are reading and it's always interesting when I get a chance to ask someone whether they liked a book or not. In the same way I spontaneously share when I like a book someone is about to borrow.
A big part of being a librarian is having conversations with our borrowers about books and that's how my attention was pointed in the direction of this month's favourite read: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. When I first saw the book, after it arrived brand-new in the back office, it didn't give me that exciting 'must read' feeling. The title didn't resonate with me. The cover didn't appeal to me. To be honest, I even forgot about the book until one day when I saw someone returning it and asked about it. Their answer was surprisingly positive and that's when the book finally caught my attention.
Once I started reading the book, I realised my initial judgement of this book by its cover hadn't been completely fair. It is an enjoyable read, although it's not an entirely happy story. Social awkwardness and social isolation are two prominent themes in this book and one storyline also touches on mental health, yet it is still light reading and not confrontational at any point.
But this book makes you wonder and reflect on the people in your own community. In our libraries, what we do is centred around our community. We neither judge nor select nor prefer — our services are for everyone out there to enjoy and we help everybody who needs a hand. On some occasions people share with us what has gone right or wrong in their lives and every once in a while we really need to take time out of our busy day to sit down with someone and listen to their story. It's a privilege to have the opportunity to do this, as in some cases the librarian might be the only person some of our borrowers interact with in the course of a day.
With winter, people tend to stay at home more and social isolation goes unnoticed but libraries will still be open, librarians will still be there and books are the best remedy to keep in touch with the world. . I hope lots of people find their way to one of our branches to stock up on books and share their thoughts on the books they've read with us, the librarians.