Okay, so my Onion-ish take on the Annoyed Librarian’s article about those Philly library schools is a little bitter. Why should I be bitter? I’m gainfully employed, right?
But alas, the AL did bring up a few points that I’ve often thought about myself: 1.) Why the heck would anyone enroll in a library program NOT accredited by the ALA (I haven’t seen a job ad that doesn’t require this) and 2.) the Philadelphia pool of library jobs is shrinking at an alarming rate while hoardes of librarian wannabes flock to area programs (and even distance programs — Pitt is currently offering a Philly cohort of its FastTrack program). You know something’s wrong when the crappy part time “circulation assistant” or “media services assistant” positions are going like yesterday’s hotcakes. Why the sudden glut of libraryness?
As an almost-professional librarian (still the dreaded ‘paraprofessional’) who is secure enough to poke fun at herself and the profession that many quip “you need to go to grad school for THAT?”, the view from the ground is stark at best. Positions in Scranton and Erie suddenly look appetizing. Now one can justify an hour-and-a-half commute each way, thinking, “but I could get so much reading done on the R6…”
But there has to be a reason, right? I mean, these jobs must be fantastic for them to be in such high demand and pay such middling wages, right? Please? Yes?
These days I’ve been musing about the nature of something that affects everyone who’s currently alive in the world — community. As a North American woman in her mid-twenties who’s lived in suburbia her whole life, this has come to mean something specific. As in politely minding my own business and looking the other way when a neighbor or acquaintance or friend is obviously in need. I’ve been so used to communing solely that even when others go out of their way to include me in their circle of generosity (for instance, this morning a neighbor shoveled my sidewalk as well as a few others’ on the block — I waved and sped away without so much as a “thanks, how’s life been treating you lately?”), it feels a bit intrusive.
Maybe the word itself has been overused and tainted. I guess that’s not really the point. I mean, anyone who went to high school with me will remember the class everyone had to take called “Building Community.” We all dreaded it and suffered through it together, counting the minutes until we could gun it up to the cafeteria for taco salad or turkey dinner. But looking back, I’m not even sure what we talked about. The curriculum was probably well-intentioned, but I doubt many of us really took it to heart and literally built community with the world next door.
Now, years later, I ponder as a former “community organizer” sits in the highest elected office in the land and makes decisions that will affect all of our communities. I hope that responsibility isn’t taken lightly.
As a librarian who hopes to make some kind of difference in the world, be it in the workplace or abroad, I try to see the customer service aspect as it should be and couple it with something beyond helping people find books — but helping them find a community worth investing in and being a part of it actively. Another bucket list item to accomplish someday (stuff to do before I kick the bucket — thanks, Em).
It may shock some of you to see that I’m posting again after an eight month long hiatus. Hello, world of internet stalkers and friends alike! It’s nice to see you again.
My wish lies in directing this blog to something more … well … reasonable. Say, a topic that doesn’t range from gummy bears to open access issues. It’s tougher than I initially thought to really get down to brass tacks and write something of interest, value, and perhaps even a bit of humor. This often means chugging out actual original material rather than regurgitating whatever’s on Google Reader at the time.
So I begin with this line of thought: cynicism.
With all that’s been going on in the world the past few months, it’s easy to see why many people choose to plead ignorance and continue on as before, stuffing their faces with DiGiorno frozen pizzas (okay, guilty, I admit) and blindly flip the channel when depressing news gets stuck on repeat night after night. Wars, trials, massacres, famines, floods, and worse ravage the unsuspecting. No amount of charity even seems to come close to healing those wounds.
While I skim the headlines and perhaps take a peek at the more sensational stories in my rss reader, little really sinks in because I’m nice and comfy, nibbling on the grisly scraps of injustice that dribble through the cracks of various media outlets. They leave a bad, greasy taste in my mouth. But what to do?
Add a little cynicism to the diet. Along with a bit of self-willed ignorance, disdain of the state of North American Christianity, and horror at the quality of GM vehicles, I often degress to watching episodes of Jon Stewart while pondering the meaning of pork.
In short, I’m pretty much working from the ground up on this one. I won’t tell if you won’t.