Cleveland is home to a very unique librarian in the form of a 21-year-old student named Jae R. Norris.
Norris is a theatre major with a performance focus and a speech pathology, psychology, and Spanish minor at Delta State and has been working at the library for a little over a year.
While she recently took a semester off from school, her love for learning has not taken a break.
She needed a job that she could fit into her school schedule and when she had a friend message her about a job at the Robinson-Carpenter Memorial Library she did an unexpected thing and passed it along to a friend.
"Megan said, 'don't you need a job too?' I told her 'yeah but you should go apply for this," explained Norris.
Her friend took the job and a month later when they needed someone else, Norris began working at the library.
Norris said there are plenty of benefits to working in the library, including meeting people from all walks of life, as well as learning the importance of being patient with others.
"It allows me to talk to people of all different ages, races, ethnicities, and it forces me to have patience with people. I think a lot of people my age are lacking patience in a lot of ways. At any given moment it could be completely dead and then all of a sudden 30 people walk in; this person needs a fax, this person needs something printed out, this person doesn't know how to use a computer or look for a book. It could be anywhere from a middle-aged black man to a young toddler. You only have to be 5 to get a library card," she said.
Norris said she realizes that for many people her age being a librarian isn't a go-to job.
"People assume it's boring because it's so quiet and some can't handle that silence. Also, some young people aren't 'people-people.' You've got to be able to look someone in the eye and speak clearly and precise in order to work here. You have some people who walk in and won't know how to use a mouse on a computer or the last book they read was in the children's room. It's takes someone with a lot of patience. You must have a sense of humility; I think a lot of people my age are lacking that. I may have an education but there are sometimes I'll walk in here and am asked a questioned and I'll be completely stumped. I never know what someone is thinking when they think 'yeah, the librarian will know that,'" explained Norris.
Norris further explained how much people depend on and trust the library system and it's librarians. "We have more personal papers coming through this library than the Pentagon," she laughed. "People trust us with their personal information to be faxed such as birth certificates. I think a lot of this has to do with being a small town but a library is also a safe place. If you need to go anywhere you can go to a library and whoever is working there will help you find answers. I can probably tell you how to get to every major establishment in town from this library."
Norris said her favorite aspect about working at the library is helping people, which she gets to do every day when she walks through the doors.
"I've always been the kind of person that, if I can manage it and I can help someone, then that is exactly what I'm going to do. If it's in my ability to make something happen, to solve a problem, or resolve an issue then I will do that. Working here I get to do that every single day.
"I get to help someone find a book, introduce them to a new author, I get to help a child pick out her first book or give her her first library card. I have had some children start crying when they got their first library card because they have older siblings who have cards and they've been waiting for theirs. Being able to provide some sort of help in some way is something you can't beat," she said.
Norris said one of the most difficult aspects of working at the library is the fact that people take the books.
"You wouldn't think it but people really do take the books and it messes up the system. I'll go to look up a book and it says it's in on the computer but it's not there on the shelves and it makes it difficult because I can't just produce the book when a patron needs it and another has taken it," she explained.
She also said another difficulty is when patrons don't respect the library and what it is for.
"You just then have to take a breath, gather yourself, and do the best you can. It's no doubt the most exciting job I've ever had," she added.
Norris said one of the strangest things she has had to tell a patron is that no, they could not in fact, bring their dog into the library.
She ended with explaining what makes the Robinson-Carpenter Memorial Library so special are the friends of the library and the people that work there.
She added, "We're all a team despite our age ranges. It's a really loving and nurturing group of people and we work very well together. We all have the same goal at the end of the day and that's keeping literacy and knowledge alive."
For more information about the Robinson Carpenter Memorial Library call 662-843-2774.