Time Enough at Last

you’ll have to read my previous post before this one.  I posted back-to-back 

ok, so then i read Free Range Librarian’s response  http://freerangelibrarian.com/2007/08/29/on-gentleness-and-librarianship-and-20-ish-ness-and-they/ to the Annoyed Librarian’s post.  I dig her.  She’s way more real-life.  She doesn’t like the whole ‘they’ thing.  ‘I’m fine with it but THEY don’t want it.’  She rags on AL’s they-talk.  Good for her.  AL is a little strident.  And off the point, I think.  FRL remembers the days when she worked with librarians who didn’t want change or felt overwhelmed with what was already on their plate.  She welcomes the 2.0-ers.  While still not becoming a cultist.

I saw an episode of The Twilight Zone (the old one) when I was a kid about a man (Burgess Meredith) who is the last survivor of a nuclear war.  It’s called “Time Enough at Last.”  You probably know it.  He works at a bank and reads during his lunch hour every day in the vault.  He is berated for being ‘a reader.’   When the bombs come, he is safely inside the vault.  He comes out to find he is the only survivor.  He walks around, finally finding a library – a big one – and starts going through all the books.  He finds the one he wants to read first, perching himself precariously atop a huge pile of books and debris.  Of course, he stumbles.  And his glasses break.  The fade to black is of him, crying.

Now, folks, I have to say .. this was the worst TZ I ever watched.  It just stayed with me for days.. I couldn’t imagine not being able to read if I wanted to and had all the time in the world.  Horrific doesn’t cover it.  Years later, when I found out I had diabetes, my first thought was of losing my eyesight and not being able to read.  I just can’t think of anything worse.  Nor would I wish it on the least man.  This just made me value reading and the gift of being able to give that to others, even more.

Those crazy rock-and-roll librarians

Was just reading the blog by Annoyed Librarian “The Cult of Twopointopia”  http://annoyedlibrarian.blogspot.com/2007/08/cult-of-twopointopia.html … wow, that’s one attitude-y chick!  And, yeah, it took me a minute to get that one… 2  … (point) … 0  … pians.  I didn’t realize that ‘Library 2.0’ was some kind of cult or something as AL clearly portrays it.  Now, AL is a clever writer.  I read the whole thing because it was good writing.  Engaging, i mean.  I like pissed-off smart people.  They’re funnier than pissed-off dumb people.  And this one I happen to agree with.  Which, of course, makes me like AL more.  But here’s the thing..

I agree with her because I don’t think ANY one paradigm is the be-all end-all of being a good librarian.  That includes Library 2.0.  (If I even have a handle on THAT.)  I think so many things go into being a good librarian that it is foolish to think that you can make a tidy little descriptive annotation of it and call it a day.  Of course, the irony is that, in principle, I agree with the ‘Twopointopians’ in their assertion that they ‘do it all for the end-user.’

I do believe passionately that the biggest draw for me about this profession (though there are many) is that it is so clearly about helping people.  Helping them find stuff.  Learn stuff.  Do stuff.  Helping them with what they want.  Helping them figure out what they want.  Showing them stuff they might not have even known was there to want.  Opening eyes, and roads, and doors.  It’s rewarding to me.  Fulfilling.  I feel that I am in the service of something that makes a difference to many.

Now… as a practical matter, all of the above has to boil down to a list of job duties, skill sets, and attitude parameters.  I believe that the ideas in Library 2.0 have their place within that scheme.  And the stated impetus BEHIND Library 2.0 definitely does.  But the more that I read these blogs, articles, and other pieces by librarians about the library profession and it’s destiny, the more I get the idea that what it all boils down to gets lost.

I mean, let’s face it.  We do a job.  We get paid.  In that sense, we are similar to your average oil worker.  But what makes us want to be a librarian and not an oil worker?  It’s certainly not the money.  Oil workers are incredibly well-paid.  We, unfortunately, are not.  So, who are we that the job duties …. cataloging, organizing, giving direction and instruction, managing old buildings and young volunteers, raising funds and stamping out fires;  the skill sets …. detail-oriented work, good with figures, large memory capacity, good people skills, excellent writing ability, great organizational skills; and attitude parameters … a passion for reading, helping others, public service, technology, hard work, and great puzzles …. who are we that these things sit right on us? 

Frankly, for most of us, I don’t think that writing judgemental articles and blogs about this theory or that pertaining to librarianship is the reason that we got into this profession.  I think most of us got into it because that’s where our lives and all the experiences, lessons, and influences in it led us.  Which brings me right back ’round to the underlying subject of this blog….

which brings us to my grandmother.. my whole family, really, but my grandmother in particular.  Since I was a little girl, she has been one of the biggest influences in my life.  And hers is a great, compassionate character.  She will leave no road uncrossed to help someone.  Be it her granddaughter (often) or the lady next door or charities, big and small.  She loves to help people.  She is the woman who taught me how to take joy and pride from helping people.  My whole family has this feeling of duty.  It took me some years to find my way back to it, but it was always there.  Those crazy rock-and-roll years took longer than they ought, I’m afraid.

Vista is the devil

So I bought a new laptop a month ago.  It is my very FAVORITE thing in the world at the moment.  It’s an HP and has that cool Light-Scribe thing and all.. BUT it came pre-loaded with Vista (among other things.)  Believe it or not, I wasn’t that worried about it.  I mean, solitaire looks AWSOME on it.  heh.  But then I started trying to load my programs on it…. MS Office, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, CuteFTP, my old P2P program (shhh!  don’t tell anyone), and other tidbits.  So I’m loading, and tryng to install and here it comes….. N O T    C O M P A T I B L E.  The only thing that would have been was my Office, but of course they wanted to reverify and, well… you know how that goes.

So now here I am, three weeks later, with a brand-spanking-new version of all my old software… and a much lighter bankbook.  Don’t get me wrong, having new software is cool.  Though it does insert some re-learning time into my schedule.  It’s just that after popping for the laptop, it could’ve been at a better time.  Anyway, that isn’t the worst of it.  I had a few tech problems with the laptop when I first got it – just stuff I couldn’t figure out with my bone-head.  When I called HP (overseas), they tried to help.  But what it came down to – and what the guy ultimately admitted, was that 75% of his calls were due to Vista incombatibility problems with other software or hardware.  75%!  He said it doesn’t work with so many programs, it’s scary.  That it doesn’t work with routers made more than two years ago.  That switching back to XP was one of the number one requests he had! 

Awesome.

So I said, great, add me to the list of those requests.  And HE said, “I could help you with that, ma’am, but then I’d have to kill you per Mr. Gates’ orders.”

Just kidding.  He said, “I could help you with that, ma’am, but you’d never be able to find all the correct drivers.  I could not guarantee that you would retain functionality of your video, audio, print, connectivity, webcam, keyboard, or touchpad capabilities.”

SUPER-Awesome.

Yes, Virginia, there is an anti-Christ.  It’s name is Vista.  And Bill rode before it.

Oh – and here’s this installment in the girl-becomes-librarian saga…. So I’m 17.  I’m going to a private school and they have money for things like computers and teachers who know anything about computers.  (It’s 1986, mind you.) I take one of the computer classes offered.. which happens to be (don’t laugh at me or I’ll berate you with alliterative and obtuse insults) BASIC.  For those of you born about that time or later, BASIC was a programming language that the dinosaurs used to find better sources of water.  The language went AI and turned on the dinosaurs, however.  (You may or may not have been privy to this version of history in your high school history books.) 

At any rate, my final class project was to write a small game where the player was asked trivia questions and, when answering correctly, their little avatar (we called them Mario, for the most part at the time) would climb one step.  When you got to the top, you won, sparking a small fireworks display.  This program was 218 pages long.  No.  really.  I obviously had not mastered the concept of the loop, yet. 

This was my first exposure to technology in the classroom.  I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever done in school up to that point.

As I’ve reaped, let me sow…

I have read the blogs of my classmates .. how cool is it (and how much of a coincidence… hmmm?) that I am in a class with such a group of people?  They read.  They write well.  They think about stuff.  They endeavor to embrace change while respecting history.  They are funny, and thought-provoking, and, in the best way, sometimes even weird.

It has been years since I have spent time in such a group of people.  (Apart from my family, of course.)   And reading their musings reminds me why I have taken this inconvenient leap to finish the education I always knew I would.  Because I like these kinds of people.  It would give me the greatest pleasure to work beside nothing but these types for the rest of my life. 

 Which reminds me… of two more chapters in the Making of a Librarian…

The first is writing.  I was a prolific writer of angst-filled poetry as a girl.  I remember wanting to pour my soul into the page.  It was this emotion that made me realize that the books I read HAD authors.  lol.  Sounds funny, I know.  But up until then, reading to me had been … submersive.  I lived in those stories.  The author, if I ever thought of him/her.. was simply God.  If you read – and especially if you started WAY early, like I did, you’ll understand.  Books were just a wormhole … not things unto themselves.  It was when I experienced the emotion pressing out of me into a poem or short story that I first realized writing… books … libraries … it was a world where people …. worked.  And they paid them.

The second thing that hanging with this class has reminded me of is a moment when I was 16.  (I may jump back and forth here in time – forgive the lack of organization.) My dad had just remarried a woman who was a true professional in her field.  I’d known smart women all my life but this was something new.  She worked.  Really, really hard.  She was good with people.  A good salesperson.  Well-spoken but not intellectual.  Well-groomed and dressed, but not a snob.  The first woman, frankly, that I’d met like her.  She was telling my dad that she thought I ought to get a job.  I remember looking at her like she’d grown a third eye on her chin.  And then I said something that she has reminded me of every few years since…

“And now all that’s left of the rest of my life is WORK!”

heh. 

I would have been much less upset if I had known where and with whom I’d spend the majority of my working life.  And how much personal fulfillment I would find in it.

Even though it may have taken a few years to make it here.

This was the first thing…

…. i remember about my path to being a librarian. 

I was in 3rd grade.  My favorite place in the world was the school library.  I loved reading with my whole young soul.  We had two days a year when the librarian (a VERY old lady of I’m sure at least 40) would set out tables adn line them with books.  A book fair?  Nope.  She was letting all the kids come through, one by one, and pick out a FREE book of their very own.  I still have some of those earliest paperbacks.  I just thought it was the coolest thing in the world to do.  She strikes me, in retrospect, as very smart and very kind.  If a bit strict.  

I also remember thinking that it would be so cool to have a job where they paid you to read all day.  ….. Yeah, well.  Like I said, I was in 3rd grade.   

What of it?

Here’s what.  I already had a blog – a fairly new one and my first.  But something I’ve gotten into.  However, this blog will be more or less focused on the subject of how i became a librarian in 40 years or less, the little challenges and epiphanies of that, and any generally related (or REALLY generally related) off-shoots of that. 

I may talk about a movie I’ve seen once in a while and I may talk about the intricacies and frustrations of carpentry.  You may find here a late-night diatribe on how ridiculously frustrating the paperwork of grad school can be or you may just find something funny my grandmother told me.

Hopefully, you will never be bored. 

  • Playing God

    I wrote in one of my posts here that I thought of authors as God when I was a kid. And now I'm putting MY random thoughts out there for general edification. heh. Karma. As a job, being God is kind of intimidating. Thank (God) only adults are reading this. (I hope.) That way, I only have to be intimidated about being, say, a lesser cherub.