Sunday, June 22, 2008

Why I Decided to Become a Librarian

  • I like researching stuff--the weirder, the better.
  • After teaching community college English composition classes part-time for three years I wanted to slit my wrists. Seriously. I didn't choose an English undergrad and a M.F.A. in Poetry so that I could read terrible writing for 30 years.
  • I like helping people--the weirder, the better.
  • Some of the qualities that made me a decent teacher make me an even better librarian: I'm patient, I break a long process down into smaller steps, I'm funny; not stuffy.
  • I looked forward to helping my students research their papers, but I rarely, if ever, looked forward to reading their papers.

Once I began working in a library I discovered that:
  • I have some pretty awesome "people skills." People like to talk to me and I like talking to them.
  • I feel that I'm a little bit of a detective. Finding the answer to a tough research question is a little like solving a mystery.
  • The bizarro element of working in a library makes me laugh more than it freaks me out. I have great stories to tell at cocktail parties.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Detroit Festival of the Arts

Yesterday after work, I went to the Detroit Festival of the Arts and was really pleased with this community event. I had never been to this festival before and I was immediately charmed by the joyful vibe of the event and the people attending and working. There is an entire section for children and families, and this was one of my favorite parts. During my break from the Undergraduate Library Information Desk I wandered around amazed by the wonderful community organizations that were hosting crafts and other fun events for kids. The Detroit Institute of the Arts had tables set up for kids to create fanciful, spectacular paper bag hats. MOCAD also offered a lovely opportunity for kids and kids-at-heart to create earth art: temporary outside sculptures using rocks, twigs, leaves, pinecones, etc. I was totally enchanted with everything and wished that I was 8 years old again.

I need to get my camera fixed so that I can take photos and post 'em here.

At any rate, as I was walking around the festival, I noticed the Information Booths, and wondered immediately why I hadn't offered to volunteer to staff one. Community events like this are perfect opportunities for librarians to get involved with their communities and to share their skills. Yes, I'm sure it involves a lot of "where is the bathroom?" questions, but so what? Librarians should be involved in their communities and participating in events and festivals like these are a great way to insert the profession into a place where people don't automatically think "librarian." I know that Jessamyn West has participated in large-scale events like Burning Man and the WTO protests. I wonder if other librarians do this type of local reference. I will look into it.