It’s safe to say that Redbridge Central Library has been familiar territory to me since I was 8 years old and I remember I had always envied the librarians because they would get to meet so many people at their workplace. I love meeting new people and seeing new faces so I wanted to do something that would help me to achieve this, which is why I decided to volunteer at the library.
I worked here in 2012 at the age of 14 and was amazed at the magical effects books had on children. I was pretty fortunate to notice the excitement dancing in every child’s eyes as they told me how Harry defeated Voldemort or how Sabrina saved the day. Such enthusiasm meant a highly deserved reward which was gratified with smiles that stretched wide and eyes that further lit up. It was amazing! At the same time I got to know the staff there so when summer sadly ended and it was time to go back to school, I would often receive a pleasant smile or a nod from the librarians who knew me. I felt like I had accomplished my goal in getting to know new people.
The next year I did not volunteer and quickly became thirsty to be in that friendly company again, to be surrounded by the over-excited yet adorable children itching to read. So at 16 I volunteered again wanting to know what changes had been made in my absence. Luckily I have been surrounded by an even friendlier group of staff and volunteers. This year I have been able to meet more of my contemporaries from neighbouring schools that I did not know of before and I really recommend volunteering in this way as it erodes any inter-school hostility that may exist.
So I have made new friends and have become well acquainted (also re-acquainted) with the staff. But the one thing that has changed or caught me by surprise, rather, is the increasing intellect of the children! They are so smart and at such a young age. The best example is of a 7 year old girl who had read all of the Harry Potter Books. All of them! How did I know that she had read the entire collection instead of the first and last page? Well, she recounted the entire collection and quoted pages too. Remarkable for such a young girl who will, I am sure, go far in life.
This is a great opportunity to learn an important life lesson: that we can learn from those that are younger than us. Being the youngest in my family, I never fail to point this out but it is great to finally implement it myself. I will always remember that little girl because of her great motivation to achieve her goal at the tender age of seven but, sadly, she will never know it (mainly because she was only visiting Ilford in her holidays!)
Learning is a vital stepping stone and it’s all around us, constantly ready to be taken in any shape, way or form and this is my favourite part of volunteering at the library. Be it from the staff, parents or even children, I have learnt key qualities including patience, perseverance and praise!
Guest Author: Tazeen Raza