Working in the Library
— Tyler Johnson
Greetings, beloved readers. My name is Tyler Johnson and, like this journal’s usual author, Jake Kutina, I am a Benedictine Volunteer from Collegeville, Minnesota, USA, serving at Sant’Anselmo. Jake is spending some time traveling throughout Italy with his family, so I have the pleasure of contributing this article during his absence.
I am writing to you from an area colloquially referred to as “The Box”, a glass-enclosed workspace at the entrance of the library here at Sant’Anselmo, where I spend a few hours each morning doing volunteer work. This is a new job for me; unlike the other volunteers I landed in Rome just a short six weeks ago, upon which my main responsibilities were studying Italian language and washing dishes. Once my daily Italian course (which I took for four weeks at Scuola Leonardo da Vinci) ended, I became available and comfortable enough for more work. Hence, the library.
My main responsibilities in the library are checking books in/out, shelving, making photocopies and scans, and answering questions to help the students and professors use the space. The procedures of the job aren’t too complicated, especially with the training and help of the library staff: Br. Joe Schneeweis, Claudia, and Benone. For me, the trickiest (and most beneficial) part of the job is communicating in Italian to assist others. Listening comprehension is far and away the most difficult aspect for me, which is even harder when whispering at a library-adequate volume through a glass box while wearing face masks. Oof. I am grateful for the kindness and patience of the students.
Working as a pseudo-librarian comes with a nice set of perks. I’m a bit of a bookworm, so I enjoy admiring the diverse collection of books while shelving those that have been recently returned or newly cataloged. While in “The Box” there are periods of time I can use to do some reading myself. I’m currently reading Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen; if you’re looking for something to read, I’d recommend it. Otherwise, give A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseni or Shantaram by David Gregory Roberts a try. Or don’t. I’m no expert. Read what you like.
Anyway, as a concluding rite to this journal entry, here’s what I suggest: Grab a book, find a comfortable place, settle in, and get to reading. It’s good for you.