There I was early on a Thursday evening in Baton Rouge’s Carver Branch Library sitting with my laptop in front of me. I was attached to my iPhone and earphones (Because I’m cool like that.)
I was composing my notes for a presentation before heading to a meeting. Sometimes, and those times are few, I am well-prepared before heading into a meeting that I lead.
Music from Frankie Beverly and Maze was playing in my ears. Then my head started bobbing as I was writing my notes. In the middle of my groove (Does anyone use that word anymore?), I get surprised by a little boy, about 2 years old. He was starring at me.
He was probably perplexed by my head bobbing. I stared back. He didn’t say anything. He just stared.
Then he sneezed. That was followed by two more sneezes. I was concerned he had the flu or something, and had just propelled thousands of microscopic flu drops on me.
Then, he walked away as quietly as he had arrived. I returned to my work, still shaken by the sneezing tike.
With my music back on, I drifted back into my preparations for items to bring up at the meeting of my high school class members. (OK, so it wasn’t a high-leveled business meeting. Do not judge me.)
But, for some reason, I could hear a lot of noise going on in the library. This was the first time I had been in the Carver Library other than to attend an event in one of the meeting rooms. The library sits on the footprint of the first school I attended, Reddy Elementary, at Napoleon and Terrace streets.
Isn’t a library supposed to be quiet, and aren’t people supposed to look askance at noisy patrons to get them to stop? Well, that wasn’t the case at Carver Branch on this evening.
So, I took to my Facebook page to let my followers know that I was in a noisy library, and I wasn’t happy about it. Folks quickly responded, one asking for the name and location of the library.
This response came in: “I thought that was one of the best libraries.”
Just then, the little sneezer returned. This time, he had an older child, about 5 years old, in tow. They remained just long enough to deliver another sneeze, and they were gone.
I returned to my preparation. My head was bobbing to the music again, and the notes were flowing. (Again, because I’m cool like that.)
After a few minutes, I could hear more chattering rising from just beyond where I could see.
“My goodness,” I thought, “who is running this place? When I leave I am going to register my complaint. This is no way to manage a library.”
About 20 minutes later, partly listening to music, partly compiling notes and partly being annoyed, I prepared to leave.
Through all of the turmoil, I had accomplished something.
So now it was time to find the incompetent person running the library and share my thoughts.
But, as I walked over to the front desk, I saw something amazing — the source of the noise. There were a number of young women with small children there. They were getting books and other items for the small children.
In a couple of instances, I saw moms reading to their children. This was awesome. And at the desk, there were couple young men who, if they were walking down the street late at night, might be victims of negative profiling by everyone. They were asking the man at the counter about a variety of authors, books and how to reserve books.
Their exchange was a little bit louder than normal, but their subject matter was refreshing.
Instead of waiting to register a complaint, I walked out smiling. I am going to return to Carver Branch. It’s my kind of place, sneezing kid and all.
Ed Pratt, a former Advocate editor, is assistant to the chancellor for media relations at Southern University. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.