I pulled this one from the 2011 archives (otherwise known as when Alice lived at blogger and had no readers sadface). . . just like in a real library!
This ain’t yo mama’s library. I’m pretty sure that’s a library’s slogan somewhere, possibly somewhere in the Bronx, though more likely in some nice suburban area that is attempting to be “hip”. So hip that they haven’t figured out that no one uses that word anymore. You see, the idea is that if libraries are to survive, we must appeal to everybody, because everybody is a stat – er, an important member of society. Plus, they technically pay us through their taxes. So it pays to please them.
If you are a public librarian, as I was for several years, this involves pleasing the public. The public consists of all those huddled masses causing the librarians to yearn to breathe free. Old people, young people, poor people, dumb people, stinky people, weird people, you see all kinds there. And you help them, even if they wear tin foil on their heads and insist the government has caused their open head injury. (Haha, yeah that wasn’t a joke). If you want to meet all sorts of new, interesting, and possibly dangerous people, work at the public library.
There are other libraries to choose from, of course. You could try to be a school librarian. Not bad, eh? Summers off, and all you have to do is read books to kids! Oh, and uh teach lessons to six or seven classes of kids from all grade levels and with various special needs. And do every bit of clerical work, because you have no staff. And listen to teachers tell you how good you have it. They have to be with CHILDREN all day long, for crying out loud, and they want vengeance. This often consists of assigning children projects on subjects like playa lakes, on which the library has exactly one book. On lakes. Period. My mother was a public school librarian for years. Her advice when queried is “Run. Run fast.”
At the moment, I am an academic librarian. You don’t get a lot of bums here. Most of the students know how to bathe. And usually they can find their way to the library without their teachers, at least after they’ve shown them once or twice where the building is, and that it, in fact, exists. They don’t, however, know how to get anywhere without being plugged into at least 3 electronic devices at one time. These cutting edge bionic children are our future. And our future doesn’t know where the reference desk is – that big desk with the giant sign labeled REFERENCE. Not that it matters, since they also don’t understand what reference is, or why one would need it. I mean, we got rid of books years ago, right?
Nope, sorry to dissapoint. Everything has not yet been converted to digital. By the time it is, we will certainly then be writing in midair with our fingers, and paying through the nose for it – perhaps literally through the nose. Until then, while we do have computers, databases, DVDs, and even a coffee shop in the library, we’ve got books too. Many students find they make great coasters.
But I’m being mean to the students. They aren’t all overly connected, out-to-lunch dunderheads. Occasionally you get the stray one that has somehow managed to get away from the pack, who really likes learning, and books, and hanging out in libraries. They’re kind of like those albino lions – protect them! Most are more like cows, wandering aimlessly, mooing here and there and walking into walls and signs labeled with where they need to go. Sure we could warn them, but they can’t hear with the I-Pods in their ears, and they can’t see while texting, so it wouldn’t do much good.
But this is where I am, and it works. Sadly, there are many who don’t see the need for libraries. These people often never used libraries, and it shows on their grade reports. Lucky for them, you don’t actually have to know anything to run for public office. Unluckily for us, these are the people making decisions on where to cut funds. “Heyyy, I know, how about that stuffy building with those – whatchamacallims – oh yeah, the sandwiches with the words inside. Books! And while we’re at it, let’s just knock down the whole durn university, with all them elitist snobs. Let them find a job doing real work, like misusing federal funds to buy new office furniture. That’ll show ’em.”
We have one shot. We must prove we are vital to the future. To all you future librarian hopefuls, I charge you with this mission. Update your resume, and make sure it includes food service.