where introductions are due.


During my undergraduate education, I made several unsuccessful attempts at utilizing my work study. After a strange semester refereeing intramural soccer (a sport I’d never played outside of P.E. and openly loathed), I applied in the library. I’m fairly certain that I wrote “in any department that will have me” on the application, which clearly proved to be a perspicacious career move on my part.

Regardless of my cunning application tactics, I was strolling down the aisles of Target the next day when I got the call from a distinctively over-articulate man from the audio/visual department. As it turns out, he found my vast experience with the mechanics of my high school’s auditorium a perfect fit for cleaning VCRs and shelving the small audio/visual media collection. Thus, a dream was born.

I spent the next few years gradually increasing my workload that spanned a growing number of departments. I started shelving real books, then I’d check a patron out when someone was busy. Then the serials girl would call in sick and I’d learn how current periodicals became bound periodicals. It was all part of my inquisitive nature, but I loved learning more about the inner workings of the library. Before I knew it, I was spending my summers in the library, processing new materials, helping update the databases, and becoming deeply entwined with CPU cords, sensitized magnetic strips, and the worn carpet that ran along age-old aisles of stacks.

I’d never considered working in a library as a career, though. I had become an English major, and was relishing in the literary classics. My new gig as a tutor in the Writing Center was fulfilling and warmed the cockles of my heart. Before I knew it, I’d taken the big plunge and added “adolescent education” to my curriculum. I was dead set on evolving the minds of high school English students for generations to come.

Since my introductory education classes were geared toward elementary and special ed fields, I spent most of this time enjoying the company of first graders and learning about the vast amounts of red tape that accompany teaching certification. I sensed a little trepidation creeping up my spine, but was nevertheless determined.

Then I spent a few days over break as a substitute teacher in my high school alma mater, a move which earned me a few extra dollars but ultimately proved to be my undoing. It was a miserable experience, one in which the students had no lasting negative repercussions for their insubordination and general laziness. Without any sort of incentive to learn, very few of the students summoned the motivation to perform even the simplest of assignments. If this was to be the case over the four days I spent in the high school, how would I gain any ground in a whole classroom of my own? Nothing was adding up, and I had a relatively devastating existential crisis.

Sometime during senior year of college, I decided that I was going to get my Masters in Library and Information Science. This decision came with the definite clause that I would eventually find out what it is that I really want to be doing with my life. The library had been a pretty decent job, and I definitely was not ready to be done with school. My plan was set, and I had a whole year off to work at a coffee shop and enjoy being a hip youngster in the city.

Over the next year (which officially came to an end on May fifth, 2008), I faced further existential crises. As it turns out, I harbor an ardent disdain for urban living. The material excess of the affluent neighborhood in which my coffee shop resides is enervating and frustrating. Above all, though, I missed my life away from corporations and SUVs and traffic lights. I missed the smell of rows upon rows of books with handwritten call numbers. I missed the monotony of systematically tagging new books in all the right places. I yearned for that quiet little snap that a book makes the first time you really open it. I know that teaching isn’t for me, but soon I’ll be able to try my hand at instilling my own passion for learning into kids who, from my experience, are mostly presented with apathy in a school system in which everyone’s hands are tied. Maybe it will only be a few more years until I’m cynical, too, but that gives me a tiny window to squeeze through and give it my best shot.

That’s pretty much my journey over the last five years, from aspirations of being editor-in-chief of Rolling Stone to hoping to help at least one person maybe get some enjoyment out of the acquisition of knowledge over that of material things. My goals have changed, but so have I. I’m sure I’ve got a lot more changing to do over the next two years, but you get to hear all about my professional and not-so-professional narratives of my journey into librarianhood and beyond. Solid.

One Response to “where introductions are due.”

  1. 1 just another day slingin’ lattes. « karen.the.librarian

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