Out of habit, I beelined it straight to the hold shelf, hoping a few of the new titles I'd reserved would be waiting for me. To my surprise, I found A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Ramee and The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman sitting on the ledge—their brand new plastic coated covers gleaming at me. I tucked the book stack under my arms and decided to take a quick stroll through the children's book area.
On my way towards middle-grade novel section, something caught my eye. I walked past a row of folks sitting at computers tucked into individual study carrels. My attention turned towards a middle-aged white man, furiously clicking the keypad as images of guns flashed onto the screen. Although I was raised in a home where my grandfather kept hunting guns locked up in a safe, I have never felt comfortable around weapons of any kind. When I was younger my granddad would take my brothers and me out into the country to shoot bb-guns or 22 shotguns, and no matter how many times I tried, I could never bring myself to pull the trigger. Fear would grip my chest, and I would start to cry, begging to return to the safety of the truck where the noise no longer haunted me.
As the man continued scrolling through multiple pages displaying pistols, semi-automatic weapons, and all sorts of gun paraphernalia, I thought to myself, "Should I tell someone? Is it okay for folks to be shopping for guns on a public library computer?" Just because I have an intense fear of guns doesn't mean he was doing anything illegal. And it's not like the weapons on the screen were going to magically appear in his possession. Still, the whole scene left me unsettled. I had gone to the library to look for children's books, and instead, I encountered what felt like darkness.
In the end, I decided not to tell the library staff. As soon as I got in the car, I called my husband to relay the odd event, and he assured me the library probably keeps records of what patrons look up on their servers. Disturbing small moments like these cause me to pause, and I felt the urge to write. When two things don't go together—books and guns—we should pay attention. I hope the man shopping for weapons on a public library computer isn't planning anything sinister. Perhaps my faith in humanity has been shaken due to all the recent gun violence in our communities, and prayerfully, if he ordered a weapon online, he's just wanting to do some target practice or something. Either way, this is a trip to the library I won't soon forget.