Lately I’ve had several elderly patrons asking me to look up directions for them on mapquest or google maps. I offer to help them learn how to do this themselves, but they say they are too old. Okay, I’m happy to help them. I print off the directions and then they take out their magnifying glasses and squint and adjust and squint some more while they try to read the directions. Then they leave…all set to drive through city traffic to places they are unfamiliar with. I really hope they are okay.
This quote from Anne Kraemer’s book, Going Gray, caught my eye because it relates so perfectly to libraries. Mark, a real-life Hollywood screenwriter says,
“You can dye your hair…and you can have all the plastic surgery you want until you look ridiculous, like morning talk show hosts who’ve had so much work done they almost look like they’ve been a burn victim, but in the end, a lot of it’s about your outlook, your mind-set.
You simply can’t walk into a room complaining that movies aren’t as good as they used to be, or that ‘kids today know nothing.’ It tags you as being out of touch the same way you’d be out of touch if you said you didn’t use e-mail, or you didn’t understand or weren’t interested in things like MySpace.com or blogging. As a writer or director out here, it’s your job to stay current and youthful. You may not like video games, but you’d better know about them and recognize their importance.”
This just drove home the point once again for me that staying current means staying relevant, both personally in terms of staying on any sort of career track, but perhaps more importantly, for the library as a whole, so that the community continues to realize that libraries have a lot to offer.
I love my job. I love how no two days are alike at the library. I learn something new every day. I am so serious about that. I love that the library is the perfect blend of old and new.
When I’m weeding, like today, I sometimes come across a book that nobody has checked out in a zillion years and I realize that it might in fact be worth something, so I research it and sure enough…it IS. It’s like finding an Easter egg or something. So, I take it to the Powers That Be and they do something with it. Who knows? Maybe it is put in storage for posterity or maybe it gets sold and the profits go to the library. At any rate, it just feels special to hold something like that. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I also get to try out new databases and discover the power and information within each one. In my job I get to bridge so many different worlds – information worlds past and present as well as the real-life worlds of patrons when they come to the reference desk for help.
What a life!
I was just re-reading my post from June about a gentleman thinking he could just walk out of the library with the daily paper and keep it. Well, he’s not the only one…the day after the election, all the papers had a great big picture of Obama along with the headline that he is our President Elect.
Within 24 hours, most of our papers from November 12 were stolen. Why? To save it for posterity? That’ll be great. Show the grandkids the paper in 30 years and they’ll wonder why it is stamped all over with the library stamp. Well, kiddos, gramma and grampa stole the paper… ugh.
So, today I took a day off from work in order to accompany my daughter to a “Women in Technology” conference. It was designed to show junior-high age girls what sorts of careers in technology exist out there in the world and encourage them to pursue them. They got to choose from different sessions including things like “animation,” “computer programming,” and “digital makeover.” There were hands-on things for them to do.
Meanwhile, the adults had sessions to go to as well. These were more about what the host college had to offer, what sort of high school preparation colleges in general were looking for, what tech careers are available, and so on. One of the morning speakers was….an academic librarian…. YAY. She talked about how tech savvy librarians are today. After lunch, all the adults went to a Web 2.0 class led by yet another librarian. So cool. It was fun to look around me and see all these adults being rather impressed by what librarians have to offer.
The whole thing made me feel so proud of my profession and you know, I had no idea that the conference was going to have anything at all to do with libraries. So, I had a surprisingly library-ish day after all.
It has been For. Ev. Er. since I posted, but I a couple of funny things happened recently at work that I thought I’d share:
- Last week an older gentleman walked up the the reference desk and asked me if we have yesterday’s newspaper. I showed him where it was located and handed it to him. 15 minutes later or so, he came back to the desk to tell me what a huge help I’d been. Okay, that was nice of him. Then he turned around and walked out the front door with the newspaper. I had to chase after him and explain that he couldn’t take the paper…that it is our only copy of it and it is for in-library use only. He told me that he never should have told me I’d been helpful and then I wouldn’t have noticed him walking out. ha. That’ll teach him.
- Yesterday, a similar thing happened. A young man with an intimidating appearance approached the desk and asked if I had white-out and a black marker. I found the items, handed them to him and, you guessed it, he turned around and walked out the front door. I didn’t chase after him and I’m so glad that I didn’t, because about an hour later, he came back in the library and returned the items. I’d never seen him in the library before and it seemed like he wasn’t entirely familiar with how libraries work, but you know, I think he had a positive experience and I am so glad.
I asked one of the department managers today about the policy requiring a library card in order to use the computers. The response was that libraries live and die by their numbers and if people do not get library cards, then our statistics will not reflect the accurate number of people using the library, which in turn impacts funding. I understand the reasoning and I’m a true believer that everyone should have a library card, but I still don’t think that people should be turned away when they need help that we can easily provide. People before policy, in my opinion.