Friday, November 8, 2013

It's a Boy!

With the departure of J, we've been muddling on as best as we can--splitting the weekends and the closing shifts between Supermom Librarian, and Cathy, and myself. And thank god, we got the approval to promote from within another FT librarian position.

The interviews were a couple of weeks ago--three folks all interviewed. And since then, the rest of us have been awaiting the announcement with baited breath, eagerly curious to know the librarian's identity--much, in the same way, I imagine, that new parents want to know the gender of their unborn child. And when I shared this with one of the candidates, he chuckled: "And you're saying, 'so long as its healthy.'" And it's true! All of them were/are great candidates. So, so long as it's a good worker...

And I've been helping the Captain get the old Foundation cubicle ready--much like we are preparing a nursery.

In fact, I had begun referring to the unknown new Librarian as "Baby Librarian." I feel like a big sister, looking forward to the arrival of a new sibling!

But now, the wait appears to be over. It seems that they have chosen Papa Bear to be the lucky new librarian (we all know that Baby Librarian will not fly with him). And while I am disappointed for the other two candidates, a pragmatic part of me thinks, well, once the Captain retires, he'd be a good candidate for Principal Librarian. I'm all about the longevity and stability of the staff.

In short, I'm now planning Baby Librarian (AKA Papa Bear's) future like a parent or a sibling plans the child's future success in college and beyond

Yet another indication of how this wonderful Library and staff are my home and family...

Friday, November 1, 2013

Archive THIS...or not

Recently I finished a book that's been on my list for a good long while: This Book is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All, by Marilyn Johnson. While it may in fact be a book that preaches to the choir (really, I'm not the one who needs to be convinced of how awesome my profession is), I still took away some interesting insights and encouraging words.

One of the most interesting--and in a way, serendipitous--passages in the book was the one in which the author took a crash-course in the Archiving of Literary Manuscripts. I smiled a little as I read the description of how she learned how to identify, and arrange, and describe the materials, as well as decide what to keep and what to throw it. It was like I was back in Phillip Bantin's Archives and Records Management Class, circa 2004--fat lot of good that stuff ever did for me, intrepid little public librarian that I am. The closest I've come to archiving any materials or special collections is when I threw out the special collections at the Baby Sunnydale Library, back when I first became a librarian. (And if that's not a perfect metaphor for the transition from my Library Student Life to my Adult Librarian Life, I don't know what is.)

But then, the narrative turned a little more interesting, a little more personal. The author mentioned that the teacher of the class was using, for examples and training materials and to practice  on, the works and correspondence of her own husband, an unpublished writer. Was this narcissism, or arrogance, or exploitation on the part of the trainer? Hell no. As Johnson points out, "it had been a deliberate strategy to show us that the tools of archiving were not only for Nobel and Pulitzer winners and MacArthur fellows. They were for anybody any of us thought worth saving."

She didn't add, but I thought, Including ourselves.

Which brings me to this:

For years, I've been hauling around an ever-growing stack of notebooks, binders, journals, and folders, all filled with all sorts of nonsense, from lists to useless, barely-begun poetry, to drunken ramblings, to observations made in the depths of my lowest depression, to half-finished research, to rough drafts of letters, to lists of shopping, and chores, and god knows that else. And this autumn, I've started going through the laborious process of sifting through this stuff and trying to winnow down this ridiculous stack of papers. 

Stop-for just a moment. What if I were a famous author or thinker or whatever-er, and were saying this? Or what if we realized that this was a previously undiscovered cache of personal Bronte papers, or Dickens, or  Lincoln, or whoever? Hell, no, we wouldn't be winnowing that shit down.

Johnson continues: And who is worth saving? Ah, that's the question. Certainly we are worth saving ourselves, whoever we are, if only for our family's sake. If we are helping build or create something [...]we might want to document it somehow and save the evidence. We are all living history, and it's hard to say now what will be important in the future. One thing's certain, though: if we throw it away, it's gone.

I never thought of my own personal papers in terms of archives. And honestly, I still don't. But I do happen to appreciate a couple of facts: First, my life and my story are not yet done. I don't have grand ambitions to run a city library or gain national notice through a socio-economic agenda, or hell, even publish a book or become famous. As far as I know, as far as I can plan and hope, my life will be a quiet one, humble, lived in both the shadow of the mountain and others. But I don't know what's coming around the turn next, or where I will end up. To decide what I find valuable to save for myself is one thing--but without knowing how my story ends, is it the wisest move to throw out the supporting documentation that make up the chapters of my story?

Is it a wise move for any of us to do that?

The other thing I know is this: I don't know how and where I fit in the context of history, because, as Johnson points out,  I am living history. We all are. I don't have a sufficient overview or perspective to know or anticipate what will matter to scholars and historians and...well, anyone, 50, or 100, or even 500 years down the road. None of us do. And with that in mind, should I then be throwing out any of these things in my pile?

Of course, this might just be the excuse that hoarders were asking for.

On the Reference Desk This Week

Patron: Blah blah I love the Bride of Frankenstein. I wonder where she gets her hair done. And her dress, I love her dress!

Librarian: Did you have a question, ma'am?

Patron: You're a stupid bitch! You're all stupid bitches! You are bad at what you do, and God's gonna send you to hell for it!

Librarian: ...Mom?

(It wasn't actually the librarian's mother, and the librarian didn't actually say that. Librarian just  happens to have a good sense of humor and a notoriously unkind and loopy mother.)