In honor of National Library Week, I quit my job.
After fifteen years in the genealogy and local history mines, I’ve moved out of the archives and into the sunlight of general Reference.
Literally—my old department was in the lower level of the central branch, with no windows and only a couple of vents to circulate all the
leather dust spores of history historical ambiance. THe staff there have dubbed themselves The Mushroom People.
Vitamin D and fresh(er) air aren’t the only changes in my library life.
I’ll be handling InterLibrary Loans and homework help instead of historical architectural surveys and genealogy charts. I’ll be running up lists of read-alikes instead of indexing newspapers and compiling data. Writing quick, cheerful review posts instead of historical snapshots with thorough source citations—lest someone call to complain that I made it sound like one of our city’s founding fathers had two children with his stepdaughter.* I’ll be swapping recalcitrant microfilm reader/printers for stubborn meeting room projectors.
And instead of in-depth research for a few patrons, I’ll be supplying ready reference answers for, well, all of ’em.
On the whole, it’s like trading complicated surgery for triage, but with more readers’ advisory.**
It’s also like leaving an established household for the migratory life.
My current schedule has me working at all of our branches throughout the week. I don’t have a cubicle anymore, I have drawers and shared workstations.
This is in no way a complaint; now that my job isn’t dependent on a single reference collection in a single building, I won’t need all that space.
Unfortunately, this meant that fifteen years of accumulated stuff had to be sorted through and condensed into three small desk drawers.
It took the better part of a week, but I managed to transform this:
and the six square feet of space behind the camera, into this:***
I may have left this space less cluttered than when I moved in, and marginally cleaner. The desk part, I mean—there’s a reason you aren’t seeing the floor.
The Wesson Children’s Art Gallery was taken down, tchotchkes and coffee cups (all full of pens and pencils and pennies) were wrapped in bubble wrap borrowed from acquisitions and put in empty Girl Scout cookie cartons^ to take home, extraneous desk accessories—twenty-three library pencils, seven rulers, a stapler, two pairs of scissors, a box of obsolete computer cards, three nail files, a box of decorative pushpins, and a lot of etcetera—were distributed with great pomp and ceremony, and several reams of papers were examined and dealt with.
I might have teared up a little. You know, from the dust.
The essence of my librarianship—by which I mean the three folders holding employee contracts, certifications, handbooks, my Short Story Binder, and my cache of individual caffeinated acai-blueberry drink mix packets—is now in a single drawer at the Favored Branch.
I have thirty days—twenty nine, now—to decide if I can handle the vagaries of life as a migratory disseminator of information.
* Someone did. Because I did. Because it’s totally true.
**Not that there’s anything wrong with my old job, or I wouldn’t have enjoyed doing it for so long. I’m sure I’ll miss it, especially my lovely and snarktastic co-workers. But . . . it was time to make a change, before I started phoning it in.
***Minus the green document stand. It’s mine and it’s staying mine.
^This is either a metaphor or a microcosm for my life.