Some Darker Aspects of Librarianship

Another Monday another tech center stint, cataloging the children’s books I came across one that made me smile with delight. It’s a board book, meaning that it would be appropriate for the TK and under crowd It’s called: Clive is a Librarian by Jessica Spanyol.

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It’s brilliant, any book about being a librarian will hit us right in the heartstrings and we will buy it, I’m pretty sure it’s a fact. This book is part of a series called Clive. Some of the books in the series adhere to the Clive is a… format where the young boy goes on different adventures playing make believe that his is a certain occupation for the day. The series includes a nurse, a teacher, and a waiter.

Here’s a link to the series info on Goodreads.

Another thing about these books that hit me right in the feels is that Clive has a cat, a black cat, that he chills with constantly. Suddenly, it takes me away to a library full of cats, where instead of cranky patrons and social problems I can just have a cantankerous cat meow at me until I give it treats. What a life that would be.

This leads me to my thoughts on last week, where I had one of the hardest weeks in my entire existence at the public. In public libraries things tend to come in waves, where you may have a serious problem patron for a week or two, and maybe into months. This happens often because people move around, they show up, and many of them have no place to go for a bit, then they find one, or leave again.

This time we had a mother and her young son, who had just immigrated to this country. They understood English very basically and the child had extreme behavioral problems that the mother would not (could not) keep under wraps. Actually, none of us could. He would run around the library screaming and shrieking, he would grab other children and rile them up, he would take things out of random children’s hands, interrupt story times, set off the emergency exits, jump on and off tables, and finally, he started coming behind our desk and playing with the phones and computers. Parents of the children he was harassing, as well as every single member of the staff had it up to their eyeballs with this one. Look at mom, and all she did was say stop and he didn’t stop. I guess that is what we were all doing. Good cop, bad cop, he just wanted and needed the attention. When we all asked our management for backup they wanted to be “accommodating” and trust me, we all did, but they weren’t the ones in direct line of fire to this kid’s rage path. Have you ever tried to kick somebody out of somewhere and they just blankly stared at you? Said the same thing a million times to some brat kid who is a safety and sanity issue in a public building? I have, and it sucked.

Everybody on desk went through this for two weeks, even when it escalated and I grabbed a full timer they didn’t know what to do. At a certain point last week the kid grabbed me and shook me around and it took everything in me to not drag him back to his mother by the arm. I’m not a violent person, and as a city worker rule #1 is DON’T touch people, but people sure get to touch me. I guess the main problem was he was just a kid, who was bored because he was stuck here for 8 hours a day since they didn’t have anywhere else to go. I felt for them I really did, we all did, but mostly everybody on staff that had to be out on the floor was at our break point.

Which leads to Tuesday. I catch my boss on the phone with emergency folks as I’m grabbing my bag to head out for the night at closing. I think to myself well, this child has finally done it, he’s managed to fall off a table and break something or push a kid and now there’s just trouble. Turns out, it was something different altogether. When doing our closing rounds there was a patron slumped over in a chair, when my co-worker attempted to rouse her she found that the woman was unconscious, and barely breathing. They called the emergency workers, I watched my co-worker give this woman mouth to mouth and literally save her life, and then the EMTs came and took her away. There was an empty pill bottle around, and I really can’t speculate what the pills were or if this was an accident or what, but it shook me and everybody else that night. I do hope that person is OK today, but we have no way of knowing. I can tell you that I have a new found ultimate respect for first responders, because that is intense.

These things happen everywhere, every day and are in no way limited to a library. But it makes me realize that public problems and bigger social issues show up on a day to day basis in libraries (especially public) because are open to all, and we are often a space that people go to when there is no place else to go. Public health issues both mental and physical, addiction problems with drugs and alcohol, lack of resources for single mothers, immigrants, and the homeless population all bleed down into these systems because we don’t have solutions. I work in an area that is not a big city, and the library is in an affluent area, so I’m lucky. Librarians in more urban settings have even bigger fish to fry with the drug problem.

I found this article from CNN that talks about a teen-adult librarian in Philadelphia who has saved 6 patrons from opioid overdoses with the application of Narcan (the article is from June of last year so I can imagine that count has gone up). I am in complete awe and adoration of this woman. I can’t imagine the stress that administering Naloxone into people dying of overdose adds to her library duties. Other libraries in big cities such as San Francisco and Denver train library staff in the use of Naloxone for this purpose as well, it is both sad and scary at the same time.

Thankfully, they don’t point these issues out in the Clive is a Librarian book I mentioned earlier, or people might look at librarians in a different light. All the librarians I know are the most compassionate and caring people I have ever met, but we are not trained for a lot of the things we come across in our day to day interactions. I’ve had people tell me they were suicidal, ask for help with serious problems such as medical stuff, or legal advice. You see the struggle you know, and the best thing you can do is try to help in the best of your capacity without losing your own mind. As for that family from the last two weeks, I heard they moved to Texas. I don’t know if it’s the truth or not, but in my head I can see him running around another library in his new state, angered librarian in tow.

 

 

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What librarians do (according to the feds)

Another Monday, another 4-hour long stint in the tech center at the public. I have my cataloging cart to keep me company, and the general public using the computers seem to be well behaved and have all woken up on the right side of the bed (Hooray!). I hope I’m not jinxing myself here, but times like this that it’s not bad at all, just sitting in a computer lab, cataloging and blogging. As I was putting some notated books on the processing shelf in the back I noticed a giant copy of a reference book that was moving from reference to circulating, probably because we are getting an update. The book is called; The Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-2017. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, it’s a yearly publication complied by the US Department of Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics that essentially gives a description of, and projected outcomes for specific occupations. The book is very large, so I’m pretty sure that it covers most traditional job roles and titles.

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I had to see what is in store for me for the next couple of years. When I flipped to the first page of librarian I found the heading What Librarians Do. Hey! That’s the name of my blog, I had to read on, the US Dept. of Labor answers the question I’ve been trying to figure out the last 4 years in two sentences:

“Librarians help people find information and conduct research for personal and professional use. Their job duties may change based on the type of library they work in such as public, school, and medical libraries” (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016, p.373).

It’s a pretty vague description but I guess I’ll take it as a general entry point into what being a librarian encompasses. It goes on to describe the different kinds of librarians: user services, technical services, school librarian, public librarian, academic librarian, law, government, medical and corporate. The projected increase in jobs to 2024 is 2%, at least it’s a growth but it’s slow compared to other industries. The job prospects indicate strong competition since there are a limited number of jobs, but it’s supposed to turn towards the later part of the 20’s when more people start retiring.

I recently advised a friend who is applying to library school to do so, even if being a librarian isn’t the best “prospect” wise on paper and reports. I remember Forbes putting out an article for the WORST Master’s degrees listing the MLIS as #1 the exact month that I started grad school back in 2011. I don’t know as much as I may complain about the random patron here or there, and the politics that happen all over the place being a librarian really is a pretty sweet gig when you aren’t getting yelled at or having somebody attach themselves to you and suck the life out of you for all their needs of the day (both information and otherwise). Reading on I also found an answer to another question I get asked all the time, do you think we even need librarians? Well, the US Department of Labor sure does, they say:

“However, there will continue to be a need for librarians to manage libraries and help patrons find information. Parents value the learning opportunities that libraries present for children because libraries are able to provide children with information they often cannot access from home. In addition, the increased availability of electronic information is also expected to increase the demand for librarians in research and special libraries, where patrons will need help sorting through the large amount of digital information” (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016, p.374).

It’s hard to describe a thing in words. I know I try it all the time, but these over simplified descriptions offer a general overview of the world of librarianship and why it’s not going away any time soon. Since I’m bored, and stuck here with this book, I’m going to pick a random page and see what I should have been instead of a librarian….. drum roll please….

Paralegals and Legal Assistants?? Um, yeah I don’t think I would last in the legal world, but they do have an 8% growth outlook. Maybe in a couple years if I’m still stuck in part time limbo I’ll reconsider. Anyways, if you are looking for a new career, or just wondering what the prospects are for your occupation I’m sure your local library has a copy. And like most things, you can also find this information online HERE.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition.

On exes, Christmas, and people who apparently hate earphones…

I’m sure at this point I’m not alone when I say that 2017 can just be over already. Just end, be done, leave, bye…. I’m hoping that 2018 will be a better one for everybody, and the end of this one hasn’t been so bad so that’s a good start.

It’s the last day before break here at the U and the library is a ghost town, most staff have already started the break, and I think I saw 1 person in here when I went to the bathroom just now, but he’s the brother of somebody who works here so I’m not sure if that counts. I’ll say it does, to beef up the door count. Earlier this morning I was recounting an interaction I had with a student who I thought, was being rather rude and listening to a movie full blast on his phone while at the computers where other students were trying to work.

Here’s how that went:

From my desk, which is a reasonable distance, I hear some phone stuffs. I see a kid working on the computer with his phone propped up against the side wall of the computer cubicle, he looks at the phone, then the computer screen, then the phone again. I give him the benefit of the doubt and think, OH, maybe he’s doing a tutorial in excel or something. I’ll let it go. So I do, even though it’s disturbing me, and I know as a general rule if I’m bothered then so are others. It’s on and off a bit for about 20 minutes, then I go in the back room to get some water. On my way back I pass the kid, and hear screaming from the phone, this is definitely NOT a tutorial. I look down and he’s watching a movie. A freaking movie, volume all the way up and no headphones. I stop by his station and look at the screen.

Me: “Oh, I wondered what that was. Don’t you think that’s a bit loud?” *

*My best passive aggressive, oh we don’t really monitor noise, but come ON your level of courtesy and general respect for those around you trying to work is not cool.

Kid: Blankly stares up at me with mouth open

I stand there in a silent standoff for about 15 seconds, then turn to leave, kid does not stop watching or turn down.

Could I have asserted my power more, and been like, HEY you need earphones, or turn that down? Yes, but I didn’t, and I don’t because like most introverts working in the library I hate confrontation and I just generally don’t like policing people. It blows my mind how much people just don’t generally know how to be courteous to others in shared public spaces. Earlier in the week I had a man clipping his nails and letting them fly all over the place at a table in the public. Gross. Stuff like that just riles me up more than it should, especially the newest trend of everybody just putting everything from phone conversations to their music or movies full blast on speaker in all the public places. When did we decide this was OK?

Regardless, my coworker gave me some good advice that I was able to connect to another event this week. He said just forget about it already, that kid has. Every time you talk about it or think about it you are just re-living the event and there’s no reason for that.

Hmmmm. What a sage.

This brings me to the story to something that somebody who showed up recently for me. The holidays always brings the ghosts out the woodwork and I know this, I expect it, but this one was a really old one. Begrudgingly joining Facebook so I could online date was going to bite me in the butt for sure, but I really didn’t expect it to this way. A very, very, very old demon of mine from almost 2 decades ago came up, one that I haven’t wanted to face for as long as I can remember but have been trying to take steps to work through it. Anyways, there were some messenger exchanges, which ultimately led to me giving this long (and rather unsolicited) heartfelt spiel about life and forgiveness and happiness and fatherhood and all the life things which I was proud of. It took a lot of courage for me to do. The response was like, yeah, well we were kids, I apologize too, we should talk more, etc. It looked something like this:

Me: Pouring my heart and soul out, standing up for myself finally and airing out all those old demons I’ve sat on for so damn long, while attempting to break my cycle of trying to fix tragically broken, yet beautiful men.

Him: Yeah it’s cool, same. Hey let’s grab lunch sometime if you want.

Wow. I mean I didn’t really know what to expect. I guess most people don’t know what to do when hitting up long lost exes but it made me realize that I was the only one that carried around this sordid past with him in my head. It was allll me, and I’m sure over the course of the years it’s mutated and changed like a sick game of telephone. It wasn’t the response I wanted, but it helped me finally to put everything to bed here for good which is what I really wanted in the first place. So that was it. The big face off, and it wasn’t nearly anywhere as scary as I thought it would be. We are the ones that have the power to stop reliving the past, especially the parts that hurt us. Like that big scary monster under the bed, all you have to do is tell it to go away and it does. Why? Because you are the one that imagined it in the first place.

Christmas is a season of forgiveness, and the turning of the calendar year is symbolic for new beginnings. Tell somebody that you have been at odds with you forgive them, for whatever reason, however you can. They might not even care, but it will probably make you feel a whole lot better. You might as well evict a ghost to make way for something living.

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Tell em Jasper..

 

Image obtained from: https://memeguy.com/photo/112398/they-always-yell-making-it-even-more-obnoxious

Librarians gone wild

Summer is over. It came and went faster than any summer before it, and I have no idea why. Maybe it was the prep and stress for the job interviews that I endured that ended up ultimately going nowhere, the vacation to Oregon, or just the fact that the older you get the faster time slips by you. Whatever the cause, it’s a fact that the kids went back to school for the public last week, and at the U, move in day is tomorrow for the new freshmen.

I won’t get too nostalgic on you, even though fall IS my favorite season (if you can call them that here in So. Cal).  It’s a new beginning, leaves fall from trees and shed their skin, and all that poetic jazz. There are new students to teach, and new books to read. It’s all so furiously paced and you can see it in the stress on the parent’s faces of both the young ones and older ones alike.

Not much has been going on, just letting go of the summer feels and getting ready to do instruction for subjects that I have never taught before. History and Anthropology are the 2 so far to prep for this week at the U, and here at the public answering 1,236 calls about the stupid study rooms, or fishing out the oh so sought after “Battle of the Books” titles.

I had been struggling lately to think of a topic to come back and blog about, when I remembered a run in I had with a friend’s father the other day. I’ve known this friend and her father for over half my life, and I ran into him while having lunch one day with my bestie who also knows them well and she’s way friendlier than me so we stopped to say hello. It was the normal small talk pattern. How are you? Fine. What have you been doing? Working. You seeing anybody? No. After we got all that out of the way, he said something that I can’t remember exactly, but it went something like this:

You know, librarians are all supposed to be quiet and mild mannered, but from what I hear you are actually the loudest most wild of the bunch. Is that true?

I thought for a moment. Well, I am pretty loud. I love to talk, and I have been shushed by patrons before, multiple times. But wild? Am I wild? What kind of weird fetish-y style comment is that? What did he mean by wild??  Does this mean I am promiscuous and impulsive, that I stay up all night taking tequila shots, dance on tables, and don’t pay my electric bill? I don’t think he meant it in any harm by the comment, but it definitely made me think for moment. I ended up telling him, yeah, I think I found my people. As I walked away I wasn’t even sure what I meant by that.

What does “wild” mean, Webster’s has quite a few definitions that pertain to forest life, or playing cards, but the ones I will take into consideration here are:

b:  marked by turbulent agitation :  stormy a wild night

c:  going beyond normal or conventional bounds :  fantastic wild ideasalso :  sensational

d:  indicative of strong passion, desire, or emotion

(Webster’s, n.d.)

It made me think even further about this stereotype and where it came from. For those of you that don’t know, which is probably anybody NOT in the field that may read this, is that the American Library Association (ALA) has a bill of rights that most librarians use as pillars to the profession:

This Library Bill of rights from the ALA can be found here:

So where does the idea of the wild librarian stem from? Could it be found in the pillars of our profession? Is it the fact that we challenge censorship and believe in upholding the first amendment? Or is it because we believe in equal access to information and resources despite race, origin, sex, or socioeconomic status? Maybe it’s the promotion of free idea sharing, free resource sharing, and advancement of everybody in society as equals? Is that such a wild concept?

I can see how these ideals could be considered wild, but only in some sad skewed way to those who feel threatened by it. Access to information and resources coupled with literacy skills will always be important tools for the advancement of equality in society. We have come so far from the days when a large amount of the population was illiterate and only the wealthy had access to and control of books and other types of information. I am so thankful for that and the fact that this profession, and these ideals exist.

So, if that means I’m wild. Then yeah, I guess I am one of the wild ones.

 

Wild [Def. 3b-d]. (n.d.). Merriam-Webster Online. In Merriam-Webster. Retrieved August 22, 2017, from: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wild

Librarian Friend OR Librarian Liability?

I have a lot of problems with things, rules, structures, hierarchies, authorities, etc. It’s not that I’m an anarchist or anything, there needs to be some sort of organizing factor to people, some baseline stuff so we don’t just rape plunder and pillage like the days of the pirates. But sometimes in libraries or more generally in life these rules/policies/structures don’t make sense to me, so I step around them. Why? Because I can, and because I think that helping people connect with the information they need to better themselves is my first priority here at the library. Connecting with people and helping them better themselves, in general, seems like an awfully sound purpose in life overall. The city government I work for may not think so, they have bigger interest in mind, themselves and their liabilities, etc. The eternal clashing of humanity vs. law suits vs. government vs. corporate interest, I feel this SO MUCH these days.

Today a very polite young man approached me rather shyly at the ref desk and asked if we give all kinds of information, not just about books. I said, sure, try me. He asked me if emancipated minors were able to get their Driver’s License. I said it was a good question, and we found the info on the DMV website on what he needed to have in order to get a license under 18 w/o the parental consent.

I dug a little deeper here to make sure everything was OK, like the stuff at home wasn’t getting too dark. He opened up a little bit, about his parents not allowing him certain freedoms, him paying them for things and not getting them, etc. Another case of teenage angst, so familiar.

Either way this boy was in a pickle. He needed to go online to search for and apply to jobs. Something that would be able to move him forward in life, problem is, he had a juvenile card that didn’t have internet access and the only way to add it would be through his parents, who he currently wasn’t getting along with. I thought for him, can you go to your schools library? YES, but its summer and he isn’t back until end of August. Sometimes academic libraries have free internet access, but he doesn’t have a car or a way to get around easily. Dang.

So, for today, I logged him into the computer using my card and let him search for jobs online. Was this against “policy”? Yes. Could I get fired for this? Um, maybe? (More likely a good write up, gee I hope my bosses don’t read this blog)  But do I stand by my choice? Yes. We make judgment calls every day here at the public, it’s all very situational to me. This kid had nobody to talk to about what he was going through and no way to access the tools he needed. I told him that I wasn’t supposed to be doing it, and that others would probably not let him, but he should try to make friends and see if they would too. I told him that life is all about having friends, and these friends will get you through the hard times when you feel like you are struggling and feel blocked in or trapped. I wanted to be a friend to him. I suppose I did give him some advice as well, about the fact that he was 16, so two years wasn’t too far away and that he was almost there anyways, and then some tips on where to look for jobs.

I was able to help him out today, at least in a very minor way. He left me a copy of his resume, and I’ll see if there is any place I could think of that may be good for him to apply. What really got me at the end was the note he left me. It reminded me why I stick my neck out to help people help themselves when they are in honest need of it, and why I will never stop doing so.

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Now, I do think that he has a lot to learn and some of that may come the hard way if he does go the emancipation route. I don’t think we will be roommates (that was adorbs), BUT sometimes it really can feel like you can’t find a friend, and man is that a feeling I know all too well. It’s a big world out there full of no and can’t and won’t and sorry I’d like to… but. It can make you feel really small.

How is this relevant to my life this week? Well, I ran into an instance where I asked my supervisor at the city for a reference for a job application. She denied it, saying she had to forward the request to HR and they would give a letter only stating that I was employed there and my dates of employment, nothing to the effect of my character. Basically, meaning that now my app would be incomplete, so I’ll have to explain myself on that one and find another reference. I’m very naive about these kind of things, I thought the point WAS to get references from your supervisors, but “city policy” won’t allow it? What if this were my only job, how else would I be able to get references to apply anywhere else? Well, it’s also up to the individual, she could have answered the email and nobody would have known, but I guess it just wasn’t worth it to her and I suppose. Which, again is fine, some people are policy followers and these kinds of things make sense to them.

I talk with my trusted friends here, and they tell me they have all been there before, it’s not news to them. I just wish we could change from a culture of being so afraid of one another and being so worried about covering our own behinds, to one that goes out of our way to help one another and not always assumes the worst. It just feels like butting up against a rock and a hard place in terms of change, but maybe slowly it will happen.

Sorry, not sorry…

I have had two co-workers in the last week tell me that they are thinking of going to grad school to get an MLIS (Master of Library and Information Science) degree so they can pursue librarianship. Many people are surprised this degree even exists, but if you want to be a librarian pretty much anywhere in the United States you eventually will end up needing to get this degree. It’s one of the standard minimum requirements for a lot of places, but not all, especially the more private or special interest libraries or museums.

My two co-workers are very different people with very different interests, but the degree seems to fit well for both of them. One works at the public library, she focuses on children’s services, and the other works at the University mainly focusing on tech services. My advice to both of them… GO for it.

When I first decided to go to grad school about 7 years ago, it was a big decision. I didn’t know anybody who had been to grad school before; I had never even so much as volunteered in a library, so I wasn’t sure if it was a good investment. I didn’t get in my first year, since I applied late, but got in the next year for fall 2011. It seemed to start out well; I felt a bit underachiever-y compared to my classmates, some of which already had successful careers in libraries, with blogs and volunteer projects. All I had done up until then was work in a totally unrelated field of real estate investment and stone shipping. In 2012, after my first full year of the program Forbes magazine released their annual list of the worst master’s degrees. Guess what #1 was??  Yep, the MLIS. In fact, even last year in 2016 Forbes still thinks that it’s in the top 5, rounding out at #4. So, am I sorry I chose this route? Nope, not one bit, not at all. If I were to listen to Forbes I would be somewhere getting a degree in statistics and being miserable. It’s just not me even if it appears to be profitable.

2012 Forbes list here

2016 Forbes list here

It seems that the things that I love in life most won’t make me any money (according to these list and most people I talk to). The MLIS rounds out at 4 and creative writing at 12. But you know ,even though it can seem bleak at times; I wouldn’t trade pursuing my interests and the things I love for a bigger paycheck, or for something that seems more “secure”. Everybody is different, some people don’t find fulfillment through their careers, and they choose to just work to get money and support families, and find joy other places in life. Which also works, but when I hear that a student here is pursuing a particular degree just so they can make money, it just makes me a little sad.

So where am I going with all this? Well, number one; always follow your dreams people!  Two, as I’m having this conversation with my co-worker at the public I look up at the new bookshelf directly in front of me and find a book titled: This is What a Librarian Looks Like: A Celebration of Libraries and Access to Information by Kyle Cassidy.

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It’s a collection of pictures of actual librarians from all walks of life across the United States talking about why they got into librarianship and why they love it. It also includes excerpts about libraries by authors such as Neil Gaiman and George R.R. Martin. Obviously, as somebody who shares a passion for libraries it was great to read what like-minded professionals like myself had to say in defense of our libraries and how they affect the communities that they serve, so I get it, but if you are one of those people who doesn’t understand why libraries exist then maybe it could shine some light on it for you.

A while back I applied with the California Department of Corrections with the thought that maybe I would like to be a librarian in a correctional facility. After talking with some people in my life and researching online I don’t know if it’s a path I am interested in any longer, but something about being a librarian makes you want to help out those that need it most. There’s a Correctional Facility Librarian from Colorado named Sam Leif that put it into words that really touched me the most, he said:

“Libraries can help stop a generational cycle of abuse, victimization, or anger. They can rehabilitate, help people grow and change in life.” (p. 112)

One thing that I’ve noticed in this profession is since we don’t generate revenue we are constantly keeping stats on how many questions we answer. We need to generate reports that remind people that we are still relevant and to fund us (pleeeassseeeee??). As much as we have proof on paper in the form of tick marks or computer generated data from online sheets I think that our biggest success stories can be in the form of the lives we change and opportunities that we can provide for people who otherwise might not have had a chance.

Can you think of any ways that a library has changed your life, influenced you positively, or just gave you a place to hang out for a little away from it all?

 

Cassidy, K. (2017). This is what a librarian looks like: a celebration of libraries, communities, and access to information. New York:  Black Dog.

Dream Job Daydreaming..

I got a pretty amazing text today from a friend tell me that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland is hiring for a librarian. Holy mother of pearl. I got that text, and within two hours whipped up a new cover, tweaked the old res and send in the application. When you see something like this you jump on it, I can only imagine that everybody in the known universe is going to be applying for this one.

I think that often people have a narrow view of librarianship and what kind of jobs you can find in the field. There are libraries everywhere, at zoos, botanic gardens, museums, churches, schools, pharmaceutical companies, big businesses, historical societies, and the list can go on and on and on and on. It is always to the dream to meld all your passions into one gigantic ball and make enough money to live at the same time, and this, well this would be astronomically cool.

I do live right here in reality. I understand that I’m just starting out, and applying to something like this is pretty much a shot in the dark, but you know, if you don’t put your name out there how will you ever know.

The museum has a library and archives that is accessible by advance appointment only.

They have a really cool tutorial on how to navigate the online searching and finding all the things. If you scroll down on the research guide you can even search particular artists, a Bruce Springsteen subject guide, I’m dorking out, but if you love music, and you have a second, poke around at these, its fun.

They have archival collections, but the material is only available in person. They don’t appear to have any digital collections, which is bumming me out a little because I’m of the computer age and want instant gratification. I get it though, with items and memorabilia of this kind, it could easily taken off the internet and  be used without permission commercially, so a digital collection doesn’t seem suited for a library like this. Just another example of how different kinds of collections and their accessibility is defined by the library and the items it holds.

So far I’ve worked public library, academic library, and special interest library, academic archives and special collections, but I have yet to step foot into thinking about music librarianship. I wouldn’t say that the RRHOF library IS strictly a music library because it has normal library materials and archival items as well as sound recordings, but there are places that just strictly catalog and keep collections of music. The difference between this library and a normal one is that it’s all treated like one big special collections unit based around the subject of music and music history, I’m pretty sure none of the items circulate.

OH my god they have handwritten Erasure set lists, ok ok, see it’s a rabbit hole I can search all day. Even if I don’t get this job, I would like to at least add this to the very very long lists of libraries that I need to visit before I die.

All work and no play..

Some days kids can just drive you crazy. Ok, most days working in children’s they DO drive you crazy. Other days they are literally the best source of entertainment you can find. One of the most fascinating things I’ve found about children is the unlike adults, they don’t have chips on their shoulders. They won’t go out of their way to be dicks, they just kind of are what they are. They just have this sense of honesty and wonder about the world around them. The connections that they make can be surprisingly wholesome and intuitive.

Here’s 5 solid child interactions that happened today that shone some light on a day otherwise filled with a string of barely tolerable events starring helpless, confused and agitated adults.

Interaction 1. We have a Harry Potter program at the public this weekend. As part of the display there are beakers behind the info desk filled with water and food coloring of all different colors. This girl passes and looks at me and asks “Are those real potions?” I gave my best creepy YES and lifted my eyebrows a bit to look like I was up to something. She shuffled away kind of freaked out, and the next time she passed on her way back just straight stared at me. I love to mess with them. What I really wanted to do was splash some on her and tell her it was some sort of good luck potion so she would feel all awesome, but something like that may have gotten me fired.

Interaction 2. Three young cousins gave us their art at the desk. One drew a camera that looked suspiciously like the Instagram app icon, and the other 2 gave us hearts. There was also stick figure a picture of them at the library in a pink cloud. Pink because they love the library. I taped them to the wall and ensured them they would be on display for the rest of the day in their own personal gallery. *Tears up from the freaking adorableness*

Interaction 3. I handed a young boy a storytime ticket. He paid me in turn with a cheese it from his bag, not leaving until I accepted said payment. (Thank god he didn’t ask me to eat it in front of him).

Interaction 4. Two rambunctious brothers come in with a baby sitter and a baby in the carriage. The baby starts crying as the sitter is trying to put together a bottle. One of them looks at me and asks quite seriously: “If the baby is going to cry in the library, do they have to do it quietly?” I let him know that yes, that would be ideal and we would all prefer that but that’s not always the way it works. He seemed satisfied enough with that answer and bounded off to read his book about football. (Before this interaction one of the boys was looking for sports books. He figured it would be best to literally run up to the information desk and shout loudly where are the books about sports repeatedly to my co-worker that was helping somebody in front of him. Then when she didn’t respond he shouted this at the actual person she was helping before I intercepted him).

Interaction 5. This one was not experienced by me, but by a co-worker. Two young boys were exchanging books at the checkout so they could read the one that the other had just finished. One boy handed the other a Superwoman book, and to that boys delight he realized aloud that: “Wow, Superwoman is in her underwear.” What an epiphany.

I’ve been trying for some time to get back to that state of childlike wonder and excitement. I don’t know when, how or where we lose it as we get into adulthood. I know it could never work if we were all like the obnoxious yelling sports kid, but I think we could all use a bit more questioning and curiosity in our adult lives. Maybe learn to not get so caught up in narratives and our perceptions of what’s possible and what’s not. Take more time to focus on things that we really want and what interests us instead of what will make us the most successful monetarily, or what paths we have been pushed down by others. We should all take more time to play and be happy and less time getting mad over trivial things like study rooms, then expressing your rage at the illogical workings of the universe on the poor woman behind the desk who has no control over any of it. That could be a good start, one adult at a time.

Book Sitting

We have this section at the library called the parenting section. Basically we put books that deal with sensitive or tough subjects here in case parents want some sort of book that they can read to their children about said subject. These include, but are not limited to Autism, potty training, having two moms or two dads, death of a family member, death of a pet, you get the idea. There are some Easy books, and board readers, which are stories that the children can relate to. As well as larger adult nonfiction reads that help adults with certain subjects such as raising a child with ADHD, or how to learn common core standards. I think that it’s a really great idea to have these in one place, especially when ECE students come in and are doing a unit on something like death or another difficult topic to teach children. Here’s where I think it goes a bit astray…

There’s this children’s book called “And Tango Makes Three”. It’s an adorable picture book based on a true story about 2 male penguins that co-parent a small penguin thanks to the help of a zookeeper. There is no sex involved in this book whatsoever, just two male penguins who raise a baby penguin together as a family. Here’s a really good blog post about it for banned books week by the NYPL, kind of old but it addresses the issue I’m about to talk about today:

https://www.nypl.org/blog/2013/09/23/banned-books-week-and-tango-makes-three

One of the things that libraries do to try to avoid conflict is they will “re-shelve” children’s books with taboo subjects in areas that are less browsed, or maybe not even browsed at all by children. I came across the board version of this book and tried to put it with the regular, highly browsed board books in the children’s area. Later I was pulled aside by the head children’s librarian and told that it would go in parenting, due to the subject nature. I don’t have a say here, I’m just the cataloger. But I was irked. I also think she said something along the lines of, not wanted to explain it to a pissed off parent. Didn’t librarians stop sitting on books years ago? I remember learning about a librarian that actually DID this back in the 50’s when I was in library school. She couldn’t control the books that were being ordered and put into the collection, so if she didn’t agree with one, or didn’t think it was appropriate she would literally sit on it so nobody could check it out. Seems so absurd right? But isn’t this strategic “re-shelving” pretty much the same thing. Especially when we already have 2 copies in the parenting section, and the mantra is usually to shelve it where it will get the most circulation, which would be the highly trafficked board book shelves? Look at us we’re progressive by having the books, but then let’s hide them where people can’t find them and get angry about it.

I just came across this again today. This time it’s a board book called “Daddy Papa and Me”. The whole book is basically a child playing with two males, one named papa and one daddy, they dress up, bake a pie, paint a picture, play music together and drink tea. Nothing scandalous at all. BUT. I go to check the record and notice the two at the other branch are already marked parenting. I’m going to try to push them through as regular board books and see what happens.

This also reminds me a story of when I first started working at the public and a woman came up to me and asked where the bible stories were. I asked if she was looking for non-fiction stuff, or stories in the picture books. You can find stuff in both the non-fiction AND picture books for this kind of stuff. She looked at me and said… “Isn’t it ALL non-fiction??” (Meaning the bible is clearly fact) and I responded “depends on if you believe all of that is true or not.” She couldn’t believe it. I have to laugh when I think about it. People seem to get so stuck in their beliefs that they can’t fathom anybody else’s way of life may be valid. I guess that’s just my little rant for the day. I would be willing to talk with somebody who was angry about the collection choice. I would hope that they would get mad and take it to the board or start a fuss. Libraries are supposed to uphold the first amendment, and freedom of speech and ideas we would just be doing our job.

Most librarians, myself included, shy away from conflict and I understand exactly why. I don’t like it, and I don’t want to deal with it most of the time, but for things I really believe in I will face it. And I think that these kinds of books should be accessible and not hidden away due to simple fact that they depict families with same sex parents. At the end of the day, it’s the parent’s responsibility to monitor what their child is reading, and what they are exposed to in the early years of their life. This is a HUGE part of being a parent. So if you aren’t on board with the material in a particular book, don’t read it to your child or allow them to check out the book. Simple as that. If you argue that it is the libraries responsibility to not put something like this within your child’s eyeshot or reach, it’s not. You should be watching your child while you are in the library together, engaging with them about their reading materials and supervising them especially if they are very young children. It doesn’t mean you have to be upset that certain materials exist and are accessible for people who may want to expose their children to it.

Anyways, since this is a “sensitive” subject. Let’s palate cleanse. Here’s a guy holding a bunch of kittens. Can’t be mad or upset after you see that, right?

 kittens

 

Photo obtained from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/29484572530636343/

 

Brick Walls

So far this year….

I have applied for 21 full time jobs (and probably a few part times). I know the number because I keep the applications organized on my flash drive. Most of them take over an hour to complete and include things like, cover letters, reference lists, diversity statements and supplementary questions. I’ve applied in California, Colorado, Washington, Montana, Indiana, Nevada, Utah, and maybe some others that I have missed. I have done and redone my cover letter and resume, making adjustments on the advice of friends and colleagues. As of today I have had 0 interviews. All I seem to get is the same old email from the automated Human Resources system that says hey thanks, but no thanks. Sometimes it can feel like a glaring reminder that tells you that you are not good enough to even sit down and talk to for 10 minutes. Sigh. I feel like I’m just running my head over and over into a brick wall. Over and over, brick, wall, face.

I’ve been upset about it, frustrated, annoyed, deflated, and confused. You can’t imagine what this much rejection on the job front both externally and within a place you already work at can do to your self-esteem. I try not to take it personal and remind myself that I’m still pretty new in the game, and that it’s just a piece of paper they see not really you, and there’s so many applicants. And then there’s the sympathy I get from time to time… “Man’s rejection is god’s protection”… “Be patient and the right job will come along at the right time”… I know. I know. There are some bullets I’ve dodged, and I know there are places that I don’t belong and that would literally murder my soul if I worked there but I could just use some good news about something in terms of moving forward in my career?

Many days I just want to be a child about it, throw myself on the floor and beat my fists saying it’s just not fair!!!! It’s not like I’m applying to be a beer taster that makes 100K a year or something like that. I just want to be a real life full time librarian with 1 job and health insurance, working at a place that I like whose values align with my own where I can be creative and useful and contribute to growth in a positive direction. I guess maybe that is asking a lot? Something that may hinder me is my inability to be fake on some levels, but there’s got to be some sort of professional puzzle piece that fits with my personality and beliefs.

Either way during times like this, where I feel stuck in a life situation I always ask myself. What am I not seeing here? What have I not learned in order to level up? Certain things need to happen in the universe and internally inside me in order to unlock doors and make it to the next stage in my life and I know this. So either something is not lining up with me, or I’m just trying all of the wrong doors. Maybe I’m wrong to think that in life the right things will just, well, work. Do I even have a key with me, what is it made of? Even if I have one am I just trying the doors that can only open with a fingerprint scan? Are the doors even there or are they a figment of my imagination? Is there a world without doors I can create? It all gets very confusing at times and I think on this one I’m just going to have to surrender for now, accepting my temporary fate in the tech dungeon. (Because life is the most temporary thing).

 On the flip side, check out this Marlon Brando meme I just found. Sums up how I feel AND there’s a cat in it. Plus it’s kind of an inspirational palate cleanser to my feeling sorry for myself rant. Thanks interwebz!!! When I feel like this, I just remember that I was alive in the age of memes. And that helps a bit.

brando