Friday, July 20, 2012

My day, in reverse

"They're trying to steal my building."

Most of my funniest lines are delivered unintentionally, or else drunkenly. As I had not yet fixed my evening's first gin and tonic, we'll have to go with the assumption that this statement was a result of the former, not the latter. Inspiration not withstanding, both my husband and our housemate chuckled at this statement.

"I'm serious! They're...trying to steal my building!" I was getting more and more disgruntled, the more I thought about it. "Seriously? One day, I'm going to, like, come to work. And there won't be any building left!"

It started last autumn, you see. One day (or, more likely, night) a desperate (enterprising?) thief came along and stole a statue from outside our building. The statue was made of a pretty valuable type of  material. It was never recovered.

And then, this year--this month, actually--on a very hot day (or, more likely, night) a desperate (fine, enterprising) thief came along and stole a part of our building. Like, stole part of our building. I won't say what exactly the thief stole, because if I were to do that, you'd Google it and then you'd know where I work and then the jig would be up, wouldn't it?

And then, this month--this day, actually--we (okay, not me, let's be honest, when do I ever go outside if I can help it?) discovered some evidence of attempted theft--this time, metal plaques. (Seriously, what is it with the metal? What's next, tooth fillings?) It would be comic if it were happening to some other library, but because it's happening to us, it's not funny. It's frustrating and alarming and sad. And...are they really stealing the building out from under our noses? I swear I saw something like this on Looney Tunes once. I think they used Acme products. And hey! We DO have roadrunnners!

So at the end of the day, after stopping by the store for two bottles of diet tonic water, and two limes, I came home, exhausted and hot and defeated. "Let me tell you about my day..."

Monday, July 16, 2012

5 Years and Counting...

Happy birthday to me!

Five years ago today, on a sweltering hot day (Wunderground reports it was 112 degrees that day; sounds about like a normal day), I turned up at HR and posed for a picture that would go onto my Emergency Worker ID. I was given a huge binder of information, and my direct deposit sign-up form, and I was sternly warned to check under my desk for scorpions, black widows, and rattlesnakes. (For a moment, I found myself wondering if I had taken a job in Southern California, circa 1870.) And then I was sent on to the Library for an entire day packed with information upon more information. I was shown my cubicle, the staff lounge, the processing area. I was introduced to the staff, but it would be weeks before I'd remember all of their names.

I was 27 years old, and I got hired just a year before the American economy experienced its most recent "shit meets fan" event. 

I had been out of grad school for one year by then. I was dressed up in some lovely little professional outfit (emphasis on "little"--my body has since expanded, I like to think in conjunction with my skill set), although for the life of me, I cannot place which one it was. I thought I was the shiz, going to work at the Best Library in California. 

I must have been an insufferable little twit. 

Five years have passed. Some of my colleagues have come and gone. A good many are still there. I'm still there. Together we've weathered earthquakes and leaks and collapsing ceiling tiles and fires and hackers and car break-ins and deaths and back-stabbings and incredible support. Within my first year, I had acquired several of my first silver hairs, as well as a love for black coffee and red wine. And in every year since then, I have learned valuable lessons about public service and disservice, loyalty and treachery, bureaucracy and flexibility and inventiveness and government and responsibility. I've learned plenty about books and publishing and technology and humanity. And I suppose that all of these, summed up, is librarianship. 

These have been lucky, happy years. And I hope there are many more like them to come.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

50 Uses for 50 Shades...

Of course, like most of Library Land, I've been following the whole "50 Shades of Grey" brouhaha with no small amount of amusement. For a while, I was monitoring the list of people on the waitlist for it. At one point, there were 95 people on the waitlist for the first one. And then, a couple of days later, I checked the list again, and lamented to B, "It's gone down...pardon the pun."


Having read the first book, I feel like I'm in a place to make commentary on it. But instead of critiquing it, I'll share with you a little game that B and I came up with:

Alternative Uses for 50 Shades of Grey.

1. Doorstop (I know, generic and overdone)
2. Paper-weight
3. Kindling (no, I'm not advocating book-burning)
4. Wrapping fish in
5. Proofreading/editing practice: As in, give this book to an aspiring writer and say, "Here, turn this into something good."
6. A source of inspiration for fanfic writers. (Actually, no, I retract that. We've got plenty of inspiration. Moving along.)
7. Target practice

This last one was Papa Bear's suggestion, and we ended the game with him as the declared winnerr. Stay tuned for more rounds!

Six Years In...

Happy anniversary to me! Maybe.

For six years now, I've been working in public libraries, as an "L1" or a "Librarian 1." Basically, your run-of-the-mill, entry-level, non-management adult services librarian. Only, lately, as I made the wry observation to one of my colleagues, I'm either "a ridiculously over-performing L1 or else an absurdly under-performing Senior Librarian."  This remark came about after I assessed my current job description (doing everything on there), and then the Senior Librarian job description (doing 25-33% of the stuff on there.)

If you were to ask my supervisor (which I have), she'll tell you that I'm a great worker-bee, very capable, and extraordinarily productive. My former Boss Lady assures me that I long ago earned the respect of my colleagues and supervisors. I'm one of the first to arrive, one of the last to leave, and I take such pride in my job as a public servant. Most days, I see it as an honor. I may, from time to time, cock an eyebrow at the decisions the bureaucracy makes, but by and large, I respect them. I trust my bosses, and while I sometimes question their decisions, I force myself to adapt, because they're morally upright and they possess fine ethics. Usually, they end up being right in the decisions that they make.

 I'm kept busy, I'm challenged, and I'm content.


I've stayed in touch with three of my comrades with whom I attended IU SLIS: Ezz, the Sooz, and Abby. The Sooz was the first to really go on to great things: within six months of getting hired as a reference librarian, she was promoted to a Collection Specialist position. She now writes book reviews for Booklist, sits on the WV Library Association Council, and has given presentations for ALA. Abby is the real revelation. She graduated after us, got a job right away, and then within a couple of years took a job as the supervisor of the Children's Department at a Library close to her hometown. Her story doesn't end there, though. She's become quite a prolific blogger, and was declared one of the ALA's "Emerging Leaders" of 2010. 

That leaves Ezz. She is the one that I have quietly envied--she got a job lined up pretty quickly after graduating, just north of Indianapolis. She married her high school sweetheart not long after. They bought a house in the suburbs, and like me she has managed to hold on to her reference librarian job throughout the tumult of the last few years. And like me, she stayed in her current position. Sure, both of us experienced a lot of change, and took on dozens of new tasks and roles and duties, but our job titles and our statuses (stati?) didn't change.

And last month, she was promoted to Digital Services Coordinator at her library. And OF COURSE I'm thrilled to bits for her; she is a geek of the highest order and will do a fabulous job. But to return to how this affects me (because this is MY blog, and therefore, it's all about me)...

Here I am. About to start Year 6 as a librarian, Year 5 in my current position. As an LI. A worker bee. A ditch digger. A foot-soldier in the trenches. I'll turn up around on Monday morning, and I'll look at my desk, appalled at the mess but resigned to it, because there's simply no time any more to clean it. I'll brew up a pot of coffee, sit down, and plan my day, and then my week, and all the while, I'll think, The best laid plans...And then my boss will come in, and I'll give her a perky good morning and I'll smile at her only-half-joking grumpy "Are you for reals?" look, and then I'll get to work. And by the end of the day, I'll be exhausted, but I'll be proud of the job I did. But at the back of my mind, I'll be thinking about Abby, and the Sooz, and Ezz, and I'll be wondering, "Am I underachieving? Am I just a failure? Is this all I'm good for?"

Our Children's Librarian, Cathy, is from time to time, a font of wisdom. She was the one who told me that "fine" stands for "fucked up, insecure, neurotic, and emotional." Ha. She was also the one who advised me: "Don't judge your insides by other peoples' outsides." I know she's right. And I know that the success of my cohorts is not indicative of failure on my part. It's like comparing apples and armadillos. Realistically, one has nothing to do with the other. 

But this all?