Last Saturday, two little boys came up to my desk. They put their heads together and whispered for a second, deciding who was going to actually ask me their question. Then the less shy boy very politely said, "Could you please help us find a book?"
"Of course!" I said. "What kind of book?" I opened a search in the library catalog, preparing to do some librarian-fu.
"A book about guns."
I blinked, stunned. The boys' eager little faces looked hopeful. I wondered if I was dreaming or if perhaps I was being rewarded for being a very, very good librarian in my last life.
I smiled at them and said, "I can definitely help you. What kind of gun book do you want? Anything specific?"
They looked at each other and then at me. "One with lots of color pictures."
I did a quick search, found a Dewey number and took the boys back in the stacks to find them a book. (A gun book! With color photos!) I grabbed a Gun Digest off the shelf and saw that there was a Ruger MarkII on the cover. "Hey, look!" I said. "I have one of these guns, but mine is black."
The boys' eyes widened and they said "Whoa! Cool!" and, "You do!?" and then they were off, telling me all about their bb guns and riffling through books and magazines. I was suddenly and most definitely now the coolest librarian in the whole wide world, at least to these two boys. They happily (& quietly!) spent about a half hour tracing pictures of guns and made a point to stop on their way out, thanking me and waving goodbye as they headed out into the sunny afternoon. Well mannered, friendly, and bright - true future gunnies in the making.
Contrast this with another little boy that was in our library a few months ago. He was at the computer, printing out pictures of the air rifle he had just received as a gift. When he came up to my desk to get his pages, a woman who worked at his school (who just happened to be asking me a reference question at the time) noticed the images he had printed out, and began interrogating him with "Why are you printing pictures of guns?" and "Do your parents know you like guns?"
The boy looked scared and glanced over at me as if to say, "Did I do something wrong?" He mumbled something at her about it being an air rifle and went back to his computer. Later, after she had left, I made a point to go over and talk to him, telling him that I like to shoot too and that I thought his air rifle was awesome. He shrugged and looked a bit disheartened.
I still regret not defending him sooner. The world might be even more perilous for the rights of future gun owners and we are the ones who have to encourage the next generation. So I've promised myself that if anything like that ever happened again, I would speak up. I'm looking forward to my chance.
*& hey -I might just stick with these types of titles from now on! Easy peasy.