The Wild Librarian Makes a Decision

Wild LibrarianIt’s been thirty working days since I started my new job as a General Reference Librarian after working for fifteen years as a Specialist Librarian. My probationary period is over—time flies when you’re scrambling–and last week, the supervisor in charge of my training e-mailed me to set up an appointment for my evaluation.

My training supervisor is not an unreasonable person—on the contrary—and, logically, I knew that no matter what was decided, I would still be employed.  Under our contracts, unless I managed to do something actionable, I would be allowed to return to my old job as a Specialist Librarian if it was decided that I wasn’t cut out to cater to the informational needs of the general population.

But it still felt like my parole officer had called me up and said, “We need to have a little talk about your recent behavior.” And really, that’s what she did say, even if the adrenaline spike and subsequent stomach drop weren’t intentional.

When I mentioned my reaction to a fellow librarian, she reminded me that the evaluation goes both ways. My supervisor might suggest that I might be happier in my previous position, but even if the ink on her evaluation glowed with the holy light of pure approval, I was still allowed to say, “This was a lovely vacation, but . . .”

It dawned on me that if someone offers you the opportunity to make an informed decision, you’re about to make a decision that would benefit from a bit of thought.

So a wrote out a couple of lists.  First, the old job:

Pros and Cons

 Conclusion:  I’ve accumulated some baggage in fifteen years . . . and a good percentage of it is stored in the back seat.

The next list proved that some of my brainstormed cons weren’t actually cons, but I put ‘em in anyway, for the sake of verisimilitude, which is a word I like to air out when I can, mostly because I’m proud of myself for remembering to put that first ‘i’ between the ‘r’ and the ‘s’:

Pros and Cons2

Conclusion:  Just because my back hurts like a  hurting thing (especially when I get the hiccups, gosh $#!% it) and I don’t have a place to hang my kids’ latest deathless artwork and I don’t have anyone who will tolerate my compulsion to snap rubber bands over the exposed air vent shafts while I think up ways to get people excited about local history . . . it doesn’t mean General Reference work isn’t my calling.

Add this to my evaluation, which was actually fairly glowing—in the sunlight from the windows I forgot to mention that my old, lower-level department doesn’t have—and my decision was made.

This is where I belong, for the right reasons.



The Wild Librarian Goes Migratory

Wild Librarian

In honor of National Library Week, I quit my job.

Just kidding.

Sort of.

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:

Organized Mind--Left

and the six square feet of space behind the camera, into this:***



Clean Desk 2

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.

Bring it.


* 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.



The Wild Librarian Says : Wheeeee!

I was offered the job!

That’s right! Starting next month,* I’ll be working on a different floor! With windows.

Sunglasses and vitamin D, here I come!

That’s not the only difference, or I wouldn’t have bothered, but it isn’t an insignificant one.  Neither is stepping away from the enclosed environs of the Archives—breathing history is tough on chronic sinusitis.**

I’ll have to work one night a week,*** travel more between branches, and trade in my personal workstation and cubicle space for a login and a couple of assigned drawers.

But the questions will be quicker and the patrons will have different interests, and most of my new duties will be my very favorite parts of library work.Wild Librarian

I will be moving around instead of waiting in the basement lower level for petitioners like the Mushroom of Wisdom.  And no one will ever ask me how to find genealogical proof that their great-great-great grandmother was born a Cherokee Princess—which is not and never has been a Real Thing™—right here in Pottawattomie territory.^  If they do, I’ll direct them to the person who replaces me.^^

And there’s a rumor I might get to select adult graphic novels.

I am overcome, y’all.


*Assuming that the person who left that department for another department doesn’t want her job back after her probationary period is up.

**I can’t claim it as the cause, though—I grew up in southern Ohio and “Cincinnati Sinus” is no joke.

***I’m working one a month, now, which is why I can never remember when it is.

^Which at the time would have been approximately than 400 miles north of the nearest Cherokee settlement—give or take, as the United States spent a lot of time and resources keeping most native nations unsettled.  But that’s a rant for another time.

^^Again assuming  the person who left the ref department won’t return, bumping us all back to our original places like an Occupational Newton’s Cradle . . .

Happy International SysAdmin Day!

They are all too often the unsung, where-the-hell-have-you-been heroes of the digital age.

They are the reason I can publish a post on this blog and that you can read it and comment on it (ahem).  They are the reason you can send an e-mail to someone, or receive it.  Or play WOW.  Or google.

They’re that good.

They are the reason you can access what you need when you need it—and\or the reason you can miraculously access it this morning when everything went blue-screen belly-up yesterday because of something you don’t even know you did.

Retrievers of files, repairpersons of abused workstations, destroyers of malware, and the one group of people (besides administrative assistants) with whom it behooves you to be on friendly terms. 

Most of them are way cooler than you are anyway.

These are the people who can reset passwords, figure out why your sharepoint documents just disappeared, and fit you out with a keyboard that doesn’t eject the Alt key when you hit the spacebar (true story). 

They may even ‘forget’ to tell Admin that you’re the one sucking all the bandwidth watching Miley Cyrus’s latest pole dance on YouTube while you’re supposed to be doing spreadsheets.  You know who you are.

Remember:  The SysAdmin pluggeth and the SysAdmin can unpluggeth.

So go hug your IT people today.  If you prefer to hug metaphorically, bring them doughnuts and their caffeine source of choice.  A bottle of Excedrin may also be appreciated.  So is more budget and a lot more respect . . . but Excedrin helps.

Or just don’t  open any attachments today.  Or access anything.  Or break anything .  No ID-10-T errors today, please.  Go completely analog if you have to.  This is their day.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen of the Network trenches!  We really, truly appreciate everything you do. 

And all the things you could do . . . but don’t.

Sarah’s terrible horrible not so bad pretty good past two days

Janie had a pretty good birthday yesterday and loved all her gifts.  The MP3 player was the major hit, though the Monster High Frankie doll was a close second.

She balked, however, at having her ears pierced as a surprise.  I’m using balk as a euphemism for burst into tears. She wanted time to prepare and she wanted her own stuffed animal to hold.  So we re-scheduled for the next day.  My only stipulation was that if she was doubtful, she should tell me before we went all the way to the Mall.

That night Sunny wanted to sleep in our bed.  So she crawled in and fell asleep without our knowledge.  Neither her father nor I realized where she was, or that she hadn’t gone potty at all after dinner . . . until she started hollering that she was wet.  Our bed doesn’t have a vinyl mattress cover.  It has a pillow top.

When I woke up this morning—wishing we’d opted for the sleeper sofa—my husband told me that my college alma mater’s football team, which didn’t win a single home game until I was a junior,* won an actual bowl.  Then he told me it was the GoDaddy! dot com Bowl.   My apologies to the players and the company, but I believe that this is the dumbest name for a major sporting event ever.  I thought the Tostitos Bowl was iffy, but this . . . I’m relinquishing what few bragging rights I had to this victory.

On my way to work, I stopped for gas and nearly died of hypothermia at the pumps.  It was negative 10F with windchill.  And oh, Lord, was there windchill.  I don’t care that I sound like a wimp to the people from Minnesota or upper New York.  It was cold, the pump nozzle thingie was metal and my gloves cost a dollar.

A scheduling problem had me working for a departmentI haven’t set foot in for six months, when I covered someone’s lunch hour.  After eleven years, I can put my hands on almost any book in my department but I was prepared to try everyone’s patience today.

Plus, I had to take a one o’clock lunch.  Wah.

I had a blast.  I found everything but one children’s book, which I later discovered to be under the arm of one of our younger patrons—a clear case of finders-keepers.  I was able to hand recommended a few of my favorites, too, and tracked down the third season of Shonen Jump’s Yu-Go-OH! for an older man who was so grateful I was taking him seriously that he didn’t care if I had to Interlibrary Loan ten separate episodes from four different libraries.

And the deli made me a fresh chicken club salad because the last prepared one was sold thirty minutes before I came in.  The chicken was warm and the entire place smelled like frying bacon.  Mmmm.    And I managed to get the replacement for my beloved chapter three outlined.

I also discovered I’d deleted the revised chapter sixteen . . . but found the copy first Reader had sent me with her comments!  Whew!

I missed Janie’s birthday party.  Not sure if that was in the plus or minus column.  The kids had a blast, my husband took lots of pictures, and I didn’t have my usual party anxiety—so I’m going with plus.

The commute home was lovely.  The night was clear, the ice on the Mississippi was smooth and lovely, and the lady on Prairie Home Companion was singing about the Carribean in one of the loveliest voices I’ve ever heard.

When I got home, Janie had decided that she needed to get her ears pierced now.  So we sallied forth, leaving my husband to cook dinner.  We returned an hour and a half later.  Jane will have to wait until she’s eighteen to get pierced ears or she convinces my husband to take her.  I have proved that the definition of insanity is not just a saying.   The forty dollar** January birthstone studs that Janie picked out are in my ears, cartilage piercings have a five-dollar surcharge, and we shall not discuss it further.

Except to say that I like how they look.

It’s now nine o’clock and everyone has gone to bed but me.  I’m going to finish this blog post and work on the murder of a lovely, unselfish person who doesn’t deserve what’s about to happen to her.  And my Sunday School plans.***

All in all, I think we’ll call it a draw.


*I was in the Marching Band.  That’s nearly three seasons of constant defeat—in fact the total losing streak was twenty games, which at the time made us number one in the country for something.  When they finally won, the entire university carried one set of goalposts from the stadium about three miles and three blocks uptown into the bar district.  My husband tells me that the chant started out “We want Notre Dame!”  and degenerated into “We want free beer!”  That sounds about right.

**That includes the piercing, a huge bottle of disinfectant, and, I assume, combat pay for the store personnel.

***Yes, I am.  Yes, the priest is aware of it.  We do cool stuff—like make bird feeders out of toilet paper tubes and peanut butter and way too much birdseed, and build the Temple of Jerusalem out of sugar cubes and frosting.  When it fell down—everyone was sampling the cement—we declared that we’d recreated Jericho and learned a new song.