Any excuse for a Gang of Four reference! See, as my second year in northeast Ohio rounds out, I’ve found a new job–a full-time job–a job in a corner of the library sciences field that I’m quite familiar with: the world of technical schools. Being car-free and working in a learning resource center, I almost feel like I’m back in grad school! Except this time around, I’m in charge.
I’ll miss my little purple corporate library. I’ll miss my boss and her pug stories. I’ll miss the breezy fifteen-minute bus ride to work, and the gigantic building with its Hogwarts-esque hallways and rooms filled with print-outs of llamas (true story), and the colorful artist-type patrons, and the salad bar in the cafeteria, and processing our books. But I’m of a Certain Age where it’s time to begin doing grown-up things, like having a job with firm responsibilities and benefits and a paycheck that might help me pay off my student loans sooner rather than later. It’s time to acknowledge that yes, I do have the skills and experience to be in this position of authority. It might even be time to save money for a car, because this new bus ride is harsh.
Though similar in many ways to my previous job in Florida, my new job has a lot of different aspects to it too, so stay tuned for amusing tales of the pratfalls of a first-time library manager.
It’s been awhile, folks–a long while. Part of it is that I’ve been working on various other writing projects; part of it is that my corner of the library field doesn’t yield many gabbing opportunities. Much of the work I do is with propriety items, which can’t be photographed and talked about on a personal blog. We don’t network with outside libraries, it’s rare that I get a deeper-level reference question, and the training I’ve undergone since being here is all company-specific. In short, most of the tasks and issues in my day-to-day work life don’t intersect with those being discussed in the larger library community, and I often don’t feel I can contribute to various conversations.
Which is fine, but doesn’t make for lengthy posting. Though I enjoy my job, I’m still looking for a full-time position, and (as most people everywhere these days know), the job hunt is bad enough when you’re not trying to turn it into blog fodder. So here, apart from my own realities, are some things I’ve seen and enjoyed lately:
One of my favorite regular librariany duties is processing new books; it gives me a break from meetings, the bustle of our resource room, and wearing my eyes out on a computer screen. This isn’t a skill I learned in grad school, but it’s now my sole responsibility as my boss lady has many more things to do, so when the twenty-odd new titles come in each month, the cataloguing and physical preparation go to me. Contact paper, spine labels, three different kinds of stamps, a big honkin’ ruler…these are my buddies.
the process of processing
Depending on the number of books to be processed, it can take up to two hours to get them all done, and I don’t know about you, but for me a solo task goes faster if I have tunes. Below the cut you’ll find some of my go-to albums for processing books. If you have lengthy solitary tasks in your day-to-day library work, do you rely on music to back you up? If so, what do you like to listen to?
As you readers and librarians are aware, it’s now April (despite the continuing weird snow flurries here in chilly northeast OH) and April means National Poetry Month! Beneath the cut you’ll find one of my favorite recent books of poetry.
Library fines. Everyone hates them, right? Well–I kind of like them, or at least I don’t mind them, because I feel like I’m contributing to the petty cash drawer. Anyway, overdue fines are ostensibly supposed to keep down the number of items that are, well, overdue. Not all libraries levy them; public libraries usually do, as do academic libraries (often with heftier fines for more expensive university materials), and in my day public school libraries also did. The corporate library I work in currently does not have a fine policy, which seems like a generosity, especially since we also have a policy of allowing people to renew items pretty much indefinitely, but since there’s no incentive to return things on time, hardly anyone does.
I suppose removing a library fine policy entirely might generate goodwill from the patronage, but my (perhaps sadly low) opinion of people generally is that there needs to be something in it for them–for better or worse–to return materials on time. Perhaps there’s a middle ground to be found in replacing late fee policies with another way of contributing: several high schools I encountered during my grad school internship had gotten rid of monetary late fees and instated a form of a canned goods drive. If a student had an overdue item, they could donate food rather than dollars, and the cans went to a local food bank. And there are other options as well, such as a policy stating that patrons with materials more than X days late may not check out more items until the overdues are back. I’d like to talk to my bosses about instituting something in our library, in an effort to encourage people to bring books back, and have been considering the options.
What’s your experience with library fines and fees? In favor or against?
As you may know, February 18 marked the 81st birthday of Toni Morrison and the 79th anniversary of Audre Lorde’s birth (sadly she passed on in 1992). Given such an auspicious date in the course of American literature and in Black History Month, I’m pleased to present a title by each of these fantastic authors for your review.