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.
These days, there are few things that employees can count on, but most can at least count on there being a place to park their car. Not if you work at a university! The rules are totally upside down here. You see, first you have to pay for a permit to park. At your own workplace. And it gets better because even then, you don’t know if you’ll find a parking spot. As I overheard one student say, you’re not buying a parking permit, but a hunting license. Good luck out there.
Now I realize that we have it better in many ways than bigger universities. Some of those guys have to pay ten times as much for the privilege of getting their cars lost in a giant parking garage of doom. But parking is supposed to be part of the appeal of a small university. Sure we don’t have a lot of the stuff the big schools do, like fame, or money, or students. But by golly, there used to be a place to park our cars! Believe it or not, this was a perk. You know, like how some people get a company car? Like that, only lamer. Observe, from our actual college paper.
And if you think this is a silly thing to get irked about, I’ll have you know that this is a major concern. People get seriously ANGRY about parking. I know because I work in archives, and this has been going on since, I kid you not, the 1930s. At first they were just cheeky about the no parking signs, and took pictures of themselves posing around them. Again, not making this up. But then by the 1950s they really starting having problems. Students would park directly behind other students, which tended, I’m assuming, to cause some STUDENT RAGE. By the 1970s, when people were protesting stuff like the Vietnam War other places, we were protesting parking. Because no one can say we don’t know what’s important here. The letters to the editor in the college newspaper were much like slower precursors to internet message boards. They would, honest to goodness, go back and forth for WEEKS arguing about who had it worst: teachers, on-campus students, or commuters. That was some hot news here.
One time this student parked in faculty parking back in the 70s, so the professor parked directly behind him so he couldn’t get out. I thought that was awesome. They took a picture of it for the paper. Again, I am not making this stuff up. Later, in the 80s and 90s, students started parking at local businesses. The businesses weren’t especially happy about it, especially one business that I will not name but hint it starts with Wal and ends in Mart. Anyway, they tried all sorts of stuff to prevent student parking. They posted signs. Students ignored them. They posted people in the parking lot. Students tried to run them over. Finally, they stuck carts upside down in every parking place. I wonder which employee got that great job assignment. How do I know about this? Yeah, the campus paper took a picture of that too.
But we must not say that the school does not understand the concerns of its employees and students. They have been especially helpful in this regard by building new buildings over existing limited parking. And there is always, always construction that takes up even more parking. Also, they have steadily raised the price of a permit to park nowhere year by year. Talk about a morale booster!
Right now, students are returning to campus. Understandably, parents have no idea where to park on campus, so they’re parking everywhere. Even places that are not designated for parking, but instead for pesky things like leaving room for emergency vehicles. So until the students settle in and they start ticketing, we just deal with it. By claiming our territory like predatory bears. Once you get in a parking spot, you don’t move. Ever. I’d personally like to plant a flag and claim my spot in the name of Texas. Hey, they used to get away with that crap.
But I bet you’re still thinking we’re making a mountain out of a molehill, right? If only we could! We could put parking on it! Pave some of that paradise people, and put in a parking lot! And for your own safety, keep the heck out of my parking place!