Best day job for a writer? Most authors I know land on teaching, but I think my job might be better.

I work in a library, though I’m not a “real” librarian with a degree. I don’t choose new books for the collection, or answer questions at the reference desk. I’m a library assistant, working behind the scenes, in a place the public doesn’t see. And if they did see it, it wouldn’t look like much – just a ground-level office with a tiny window.

But to me, it’s a portal to a vast, almost limitless collection. It’s a gateway to 10,000 libraries, each with thousands of items, totaling – (avert your eyes if you don’t like fuzzy math) let’s just say an awful lot of items – books and movies and music and more. It’s Portland Public Library’s department of interlibrary loan.

You name it, we share it.

If we own something your library doesn’t, we lend it. Like Lois Lowry’s 1994 Newbery Award-winner “The Giver” in Vietnamese, which we loaned to a boy in a parochial school. Also some 25,000 other items a year, sent all over the country, from Abilene Memorial Library in Texas to Zadoc Long Free Library in Buckfield, Maine.

If our patron wants something we don’t own, we find it. Cookbooks like “Baking with Mary Berry.” Titles in French, Russian and Arabic. Music. Manga. Microfilm. The complete oeuvre of Tyler Perry DVDs. Biographies of politicians, memoirs by movie stars and an endless stream of romance novels, some featuring Scottish men in kilts, others Amish women in white bonnets.

My favorite patron name is Underkuffler. My favorite library name is Yolo County Library. And my favorite moments are when I handle an item like “Baby Island” by Carol Ryrie Brink, which was published in 1937. I imagine that book sitting on a shelf for years until someone wanted it. Since we didn’t own it, we searched for it, found it and requested it. Thanks to that reader, the book gets to leave its shelf and go out into the world to be read again. It’s a “Velveteen Rabbit” moment, and I’m part of it.

As an author of middle-grade novels, I know bookstores carry books when they’re new, and then (unless you’re a best-selling author), they make room for the next season’s titles. In my dream bookstore, my own books magically appear on the shelf whenever somebody comes in who just might possibly want them – a 7- to 11-year-old, or somebody looking for a present – then magically vanish to make room for other titles for the next customer. It’s a perfect bookstore for every author and every reader.

Lacking magical bookstores, I’m thankful for libraries. Even when one librarian culls a book from their collection, another librarian will hold on to it.

And someday, somewhere, some reader will want to read that book. And I’m the lucky library assistant who will help put that not-yet-quite-forgotten book into the hands of that reader.

Not quite magic, but almost.