Friday, August 26, 2005

'Cause I'm the boss, that's why

I know I haven't been blogging this week. I haven't been writing either, or reading much, or anything particularly productive. Busy, busy week at work and it has been eating my brain. The fall semester begins on Monday, and I've been taking care of reserve requests for faculty, and covering the reference/circulation desk myself most of the time because most of my student employees have been out of town, and yesterday & today the new students were in for orientation activities, so I've been answering LOTS of questions. And since we no longer have a full-time librarian in my tiny little branch library, it's been up to me to make sure everything keeps running smoothly. I like my job, but I'm glad it doesn't always take this much of my energy. Next week will be crazy, and then things will settle down into a normal routine.

Seeing the new students pouring into town always makes me a bit nostalgic for my undergrad days, and sometimes makes me feel a bit sad that I did my MLS (that's Master of Library Science, though I'm sure y'all can come up with more interesting definitions) on a part-time basis while working full-time. If I won the lottery, I would probably go be a full-time student again, because it was a life I really loved. (The full-time-student-envy completely disappears at the end of the semester when the stress levels inside the library rise to deafening proportions, though, I assure you.)

Working in an academic library is, for me, one way of staying in touch with the parts of "student-ness" that I love. At least I'm in that environment, surrounded by people who are actively engaged in learning. Yeah, academia is a deeply flawed institution -- but I think, perhaps with a bit too much optimism, that its heart is in the right place. And I am an academic at heart, really. It's the environment I'm happiest in. Sometimes I think I should have just sucked up and done the whole "get a doctorate and become a professor" thing -- except that, oddly enough, I do not find myself drawn to teaching. I would enjoy teaching creative writing in some settings, I think; my old writing group used to give workshops on occasion and that was lots of fun, and working with advanced or talented or at least highly motivated students would be fun. But you and I both know that if I'd gotten a doctorate in English, or even an MFA, I probably would have ended up teaching freshman comp and introductory lit -- maybe in a community college -- and that would have made me crazy. There are people who love doing that, and more power to 'em. But it's not for me. And I'm glad I was able to recognize that before I did something bad like go from undergrad directly into grad school, just because it's what everyone (including myself) expected of me.

I do sometimes wish I'd had the bright idea of going to library school a little earlier, instead of farting around in a stupid office job till I was in my mid-thirties. But I'm glad I ended up there eventually. And every now & then I catch myself looking around the library, seeing students tracking down the information they need and collaborating on group projcts and whatnot, and I realize that I have some small part in helping them to get the education they want, and it makes me really (and geekily) happy.

Besides which, just about every librarian & library-school student I've ever met has a total office-supply fetish. And you just can't beat spending your days with people like that. *grin*


Artichoke Heart said...

Office-supply fetishists are definitely< Good People. In fact I consider that, along with Kind to Animals, a farily definitive Social Litmus Test.

Pamela said...

LOL--I knew my husband was the one for me when I was ill and he brought me post-it notes and the pens I liked, as well as roses. I don't get roses much anymore (we have rosebushes, though), but, after 19 years, he still brings home every possible permutation of post-it notes and pens. Now, that's true love.

Emily Lloyd said...

*grinning back at you* Thanks for this. You know, I had my last undergrad class on a Friday and my first grad class (well, TA training) the following Monday. I disappointed the hell out of my family when I didn't stay through and get straight on the road to professor; they practically had leather elbow patches on my jackets when I was 5. It was a whole identity loss in a way, and the first year I was a library assistant I found myself sometimes saying, when people asked what I did, "Well, I was going to be a professor, but..."--starting out with that instead of saying what I did. Yikes.

In my current library job, I get just the amount of teaching I desire, I think--I give info literacy, database training, etc. sessions about 3 times a week, never to the same class twice (and in classrooms, not the "library tour" one might envision.) One day, community college first-years, the next day, graduate students in education. And the stuff I'm teaching is so dry that I basically use each session as a chance to do the stand-up comedy I'm a bit too shy to try out at an open mic session.

I miss public libraries, though--the even greater variety of patrons, ages, etc. Excellent thing about academic libraries, however: I have yet to see ONE of those horrid seasonal-theme vests so many public librarians tend to wear. I have yet to have any coworker voice disappointment that I myself do not have one of those vests (truly, they used to urge me).

As to office supplies--remember, at one time, it seemed like so many advertising gimmick contests offered as the prize two minutes to run amok through their store (or pick dollars out of the air in a phone booth, etc)? Oh for two minutes in Staples...

gina said...

I *worship* librarians. I'm in awe of your research skills, the access you have to information and books, your fields of knowledge. How many times has my ass has been saved by a librarian? And how generous has every one of them been doing it? Just recently I submitted an interlibrary loan request for some materials on the Bisbee mine deportation, and my librarian wrote me with a pleasant note saying, "we're happy to get hard copies of this material for you, but this stuff was recently made available on the web, too, with pictures, and here's the site." The note should have said: hey stupid, check the web.

No, I am not worthy. I am just a professor hanging on for dear life to your apron strings.

Radish King said...

Mistress of Literary Salaciousness


Anne said...

AH - oh yes indeed! Kind of like how, when I go to somebody's house for the first time, if I don't see any books right off the bat I get nervous. I suspect it's no coincidence that so many librarians have cats or dogs or both, too.

Pamela - that rules. He definitely gets the prize!

Em - I suppose I should refrain from admitting that I own (and wear, a couple times a year) a vest with Santa Cows all over it... (but they're Santa Cows! Who can resist that??)

Gina - I wish more faculty members felt that way! My dad always said nice things about librarians (he was a professor of psychology) -- one of the big reasons I wish I'd gone to library school sooner is because he would have been so tickled. As for "hey stupid, check the web" -- there could be reasons someone would specifically want the hard copy -- people want things for the oddest reasons sometimes.

Rebecca - *snerk* (but it's better than being the Mistress of Lifelong Suckitude, I suppose!)