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.


Westward HO!

This year the U received a rather large donation of California History books that I have been cataloging over the last couple months, and the other day I came across one that wasn’t already In the OCLC system, meaning that it’s rather obscure.

It’s a book yes, but more of a self-published kind of book. Like let’s type something up with raw sketches and go down to Kinko’s or some small printing press to have it photocopied and bound with one of those annoying plastic spine things. I love this though. Today we have blogs, such as this one, and Kindle Direct Publishing where you just simply upload a book to the interwebs and it’s done and out there. Thirty years ago it took a little more work than that, but it didn’t stop people. Which goes to show you if you think that what you are putting out is important enough you will do it.

This particular “book” is called: An Authentic Wagon Trail Journal of 1853: From Indiana to California which is essentially the diary of William Richard Brown that was typed up (including grammatical and spelling errors for authenticity) and published in 1985 by his granddaughter Barbara Wills, who also signed the cover page WOOT!



The best thing on earth to do with these kinds of things is read them out loud with your partners at the ref desk in old tyme voices which I did a little bit yesterday, and ended up becoming the inspiration for this post. The entries are wonderfully short and to the point. I gathered some excerpts from my favorite passages:

March 28, 1853

…Towards evening we came in contact with four drunken Irishmen. They wanted to fight. We got out of our waggon’s and made them take water. We were met by Capt. Meek about six miles from the railroad city who had come out a horse back to meet us. We put up for the night at Ryneld’s Hotel, 3 miles from Indianapolis. Ham and eggs for supper. Weather cool and cloudy. Distance traveled 18 miles.

May 4, 1853

…Still raining hard, half soaked and our whiskey nearly out. Crossed the river without much trouble and encamped on its banks in company with 6 other wagons…

May 12, 1853

Left at 9 oc, traveled over more rolling prairie wagons behind and before us. Weather clear and warm. Had a fine dance after night. Made a distance of 14 miles.

May 29, 1853

It rained very hard all night and give us a complete ducking. We rose and it was still raining. Took a cold bite for breakfast…

And in the end, it really doesn’t say much about if he got to where he was going. So, it’s kind of anticlimactic. There is another random entry that was written on the back of the diary, assumedly after the fact:

We all look dirty and sun burnt and really feel ashamed of our appearances.

When dealing with History primary sources like diaries are so interesting to me. First of all the way they talk. The things they think are important. Obviously a good stock of whiskey was especially important to this waggoneer. He also talks a lot about suppers, mainly ham and eggs, or cakes of some sort. There is a lot of violin music and dancing after dark. Actually, despite the Indians and the lack of running water this whole thing doesn’t really sound so bad.

I think a lot about the Gold Rush, and western expansion in the United States when I do the cataloging because many of the books are about this time in our history. Could you imagine it? Tomorrow your best friend is like… Hey, there’s this whole other side of the country that we just found out about, and if we can get there slowly, with all our possessions and families in wagons then we can be rich by digging stuff out of the earth. But, I forgot to mention the road is barely charted, and there’s a bunch of indigenous people that may be friendly or murderous, and all sorts of terrain and livestock challenges. There is no cell service there, and no turning back once we start, you will have to sell your home and anything else you don’t need, but hey it will be one heck of a ride and maybe we will get rich. Are you in? These people were brave as hell and I salute them.

Another thing it also reminds me of is my favorite computer lab game in elementary school. Oregon Trail….


It was so realistic, it gave you and/or your family members some rough outcomes. I always broke a leg or ended up with dysentery or whatever.

Either way, throughout history we have relied on brave people, “trailblazers” and such to lead us into the next stage in humanity. It’s interesting to get a peek inside the heads of these people only to see that they liked whiskey, dancing, and food just as much as the rest of us. We may think we are so much more advanced than people from the past, but are we really? We are probably more similar than we think.


Brown, W. (1985). An Authentic Wagon Trail Journal: from Indiana to California. Mokelumne Hill, CA; Horseshoe Printing.

Picture credit: http://www.mobygames.com/game/dos/oregon-trail/screenshots/gameShotId,3587/

Daft Ruth

It’s my birthday!!! YES what better way to celebrate with some reference questions and scanning in the archives. Really though I had fun doing it. Especially when I came across a folder of correspondence from good old Ruth Frantz. Sometimes when you are just looking at handwritten correspondence for hours you kind of just tune it out, don’t really read it, rock out on your music instead. The something catches your eye.

It was something like this:

P.S. I wonder how many stamps it will take to mail this manuscript.

Hahahahahaha I was cracking up so hard. Why on earth would you write that? It’s like just thinking out loud at the recipient for no reason. It reminds me of writing notes in high school that went something like this:

I’m so bored, 10 more minutes. I am so tired. Don’t you think Jake is cute? Ouch I just stubbed my toe.

All those things that really don’t need to be in the letter but remind you it was probably written by somebody with a relatively short attention span.

Either way in the very same letter I read about a young lady who married a French man who worked at a printing press. He lost his entire right hand in an accident and was offered either 15,000$ up front or 100$ a month for the duration of his employment at the press. WOW. That sucks. I can’t help but think of what it would be like if I lost my hand while looking up scholarly research articles, and how much I would miss it. Sometimes I think I could construct an entire universe of these characters. Although I’m not sure how interesting that would be. I think that’s why I like archives and histories. I like stories. And truth is so often much stranger than fiction, however cliche that sounds.

Back in the summer one of the student workers that was helping me found a folder of letters from a man whose wife was dying of cancer. Like a month after her death he was already writing about his new marriage, and how this new wife got him through the troubled times watching his other wife die. Old Tyme scandals. I tried not to judge but was like offended by how fast he moved on. We read them aloud to each other in old tyme voices and it was so amusing. Men, just can’t be alone, no matter what historical period.

And now it’s a 3 day weekend. Signing off…

Ok, not all Librarians.. Just me

So why am I doing this? Every time I tell somebody what I do, they ask me, do people still go to libraries? Do you think we need libraries, can’t people just Google it? What exactly do you do tell people to be quiet all day long? Do people actually still read books, won’t everything be digital in another couple of years? Why? AH! It’s annoying. Even at both of my jobs I have to keep stats, questions answered, instruction sessions taught. It’s like I am constantly justifying my existence as a librarian, and as to WHY and how libraries serve their patron base. So this is mainly for me, to remind myself. What DO I do on a daily basis?  Is my existence really justified?  I’ll start with a background…

I’m 32, and just starting out really in the field. Like every other good librarian I dragged my butt through a grad program, came out on the other end with a mountain of debt and shiny happy hopes and dreams for the future of information services. I have been a reference assistant for 2 1/2 years at a public library, and a reference and instruction librarian at a private college for a little over 1 year now. So, I run into a great mix of people, and questions that range from.. “what is my email password?” to “I am researching the use of pornographic materials in married couples”. I mean, each day I learn something new, which is great. But some days, especially on the public side, I have all but lost faith in humanity all together. So this is just kind of a journey. And it’s not just about a profession, it’s about a lot of things, people, manners, technology, public spaces, education, etc. Hopefully by logging this all I can determine if I really made the right choice here, and if librarians really do make a difference.