On a warm afternoon in September, Adam sat out on his front porch, waiting for his dad
to return from the grocery store. He wanted to ask him about going to the library. When he
saw his dad coming down the street, he ran down the block to greet him, crunching over piles
of dry leaves. “Dad, let’s go! I want to go to the library! I have a book list!”
“Sure thing, Adam,” Mr. Evans answered as he shifted two bags of groceries
onto his other arm. “That’s a great idea. Do you know which book you’re
“Yeah,” Adam said. “I just got a book list from my teacher today with
a bunch of books I can read in my free time. I found one that looks really cool.”
Mr. Evans smiled. “That sounds great, Adam. Give me an hour or so to finish a few
chores first. Before we leave home, you should find the public library branch closest to our
house. There are branches all over town. Look on the back of the New York Parent Report. I
think there's a website you can use to find closest library branch.”
“No problem, Dad,” Adam said. He reached up and took one of the brown paper
bags from his father, and they started back toward the house. Adam bounced with anticipation
of his trip to the library.
A little while later, Adam and his father logged onto the New York State Library site (www.nysl.nysed.gov/)
and found that the East Rochester Public Library was right on West Elm St. He wrote down the
branch’s address, hours, and directions. In almost no time at all, Adam and his father
were ready to go. They grabbed the copy of the list Adam had printed from the library website,
and boarded a bus down the street from their house.
When Adam and his father arrived at West Elm St, it was 2 p.m. The streets were bustling
with students heading to classes at the nearby universities, as well as those who wanted to
enjoy the mild weather with a trip to Mendon Ponds Park. Once inside the main room of the
library, Adam and his father noticed a couple of little kids looking over children’s
books with their parents. “I need to ask a librarian where I can find A Wrinkle
in Time by Madeleine L'Engle,” Adam told his father.
Following the signs, the two made their way to the children’s fiction section. The
librarian, Ms. Delgado, sat nearby, looking over some paperwork at her desk.
“Excuse me,” Mr. Evans said. “Can you help my son find the book he
is looking for?”
“I certainly can,” she replied. Looking at Adam, she smiled. “Do you
have the name and author of the book?”
Adam handed her his book list. “I found this book on a list from my school,”
he said, pointing to the title circled on the crinkled page. “I heard it's about some
kids who rescue their dad from evil scientists on another planet!”
“Let’s look for it in the electronic catalog,” Ms. Delgado said. “I
can show you what to do, and then the next time you come you’ll be able to use the
catalog on your own.”
Adam noticed that there were two types of computers in the library. Some were located at
stations or cubicles and were used for doing research on the Internet. Other computers were
just used for searching the library catalog, which is what Ms. Delgado wanted to do.
When they reached a catalog computer, Ms. Delgado pulled out a seat for Adam. “Sit
down here and we can enter the information about your book,” she said, as Mr. Evans
looked on from behind Adam’s chair.
“Looks like you can just enter the title of the book when you use the catalog,”
Mr. Evans said.
“That’s right,” Ms. Delgado said, “and you can also search
by the author, subject, or even a keyword.”
“I’ll just stick with the title for now,” Adam said. Then he typed
in A Wrinkle in Time. The computer responded by showing a list of titles
that matched his search and the year each book was published. Adam said, “All the listings
here say things like 'VHS' or 'Spoken compact disc.'” She told him to keep scrolling
down until he found the title without any of those other words. Adam found A Wrinkle
in Time in blue print at the bottom of the page, with 1962 written next to it.
“Wow, this book is pretty old,” he said, and clicked on
the blue title. He was led to a page that showed him the book’s status, which told
him which branches had the book and whether it was checked out. The page indicated that the
book was available in the East Rochester Public Library.
“Here’s the call number,” Adam said, pointing at the screen, “but
where are the numbers?”
Ms. Delgado explained, “This book falls under the general category of young adult
fiction, so instead of a number, you will see FICTION for fiction. When you go to the shelves
marked fiction, you’ll see that the books are in alphabetical order by authors’
last names. Also be sure to look on the racks and book displays around the children’s
section. Sometimes you’ll find the book you’re looking for in these places.”
Ms. Delgado then explained that the J in front of FICTION indicated that this book could
be found in the children’s room. (J = juvenile.) “The books are organized alphabetically
by the author’s last name,” she added, “so you will look in the L’s
“Okay, I see how the system works,” Adam said. “Well, thanks! I want
to go find A Wrinkle in Time and check it out before someone else does!”
“If you need anything else, you know where to find me,” Ms. Delgado called
as Adam and his father headed to the fiction section.
When they got there, Adam quickly found A Wrinkle in Time. He looked
over his book list one more time and saw another title that caught his eye. “Dad, do
you mind if I look for another book? This one is nonfiction,” he said.
“Of course you can Adam. Let's go ask the librarian about how to search for a nonfiction
Adam and his father found Ms. Delgado at her desk. “Back so soon?” she asked
with a smile.
Adam explained that he needed to find a nonfiction book. Ms. Delgado brought him back to
the computer and, after he searched for the new title, she explained the results.
“Different nonfiction categories have their own sets of numbers,” she pointed
out. “For example, the 700’s are for books about the arts. There you could find
nonfiction books about everything from William Shakespeare and the Globe Theatre to the Mona Lisa.” She pointed across the room towards the nonfiction collection.
“Finally,” she added, “the letter at the end stands for the first letter
of the author's last name.”
“Thanks so much. I can't wait to find more books!” exclaimed Adam, bringing
his father towards the nonfiction section.
Adam browsed through the nonfiction books, but soon decided that one book would be enough
to keep him occupied for now. His father brought him back over to the circulation desk, where
he checked out his first book from the library.
As he and his dad went back outside to head home, Adam clutched his new book beneath his
jacket, running his fingers across the cover again and again.