public librarianship is go

Believe it or not, I’ve been working at Austin Public Library for nearly four months. For all our epic plans, day-to-day it’s a position of minutia, unraveling policy, battling torpid interfaces and remembering a million acronyms, passcodes and who’s who.

But it’s also a delightful realm of Real Live Collection Development, spending real money making a real difference updating my areas (Computers and Religion) to reflect community needs and cultivate curiosity. On top of that, weeding is a joy. Too long my preconceptions have been clouded by milquetoast librarians for whom deselection gives the vapors.

I could weed all day, especially when such treasures await:

 

Who knows how many times the collection had been shifted till at last stars aligned and mind and no mind met Arizona highways?

It seems crazy to say I’m still discovering what my job is. I have things I do—always! ever!—but figuring out where I fit has taken more finesse. I’m thankful to have the freedom to self-direct and -select the projects and priorities of interest to me.

I am on the Databases Team and the Internet Advisory Committee in tireless pursuit of intuitive user experience. I also developed a library class syllabus and am helping strong-arm our information guides. But the wheels of assimilation turn slowly, and weirdly. I’ve taken training for cybersecurity, active shooters and blood-borne pathogens but not the official module for how to use our catalog. I just hope I can take the class before I teach it, which I know I’ll be doing eventually.

Reference has become a completely different animal. Unlike the online, for-profit education world with 30 minute phone calls of intensive remedial information literacy, tech support, assignment interpretation and life coach cheerleadering, the public library phone call averages 30 seconds. And yet so many wonderful, off-the-wall questions, requests and misinformation about how things work.

I still encounter a handful of rude, frantic, mentally ill patrons, with the added tension of much of it in person, but it’s still leaps and bounds less nerve-wracking, and that goes for the rest of the job, too. I haven’t torn the velcroed head off Stress Kitty once.

 

And it’s fun. In June I volunteered at Yomicon (“reading con”), the annual manga cosplay event for teens. There were costume and art contests, geeky crafts, games, drawing workshops and more. I staffed the photo print station, arranging shots into fake photobooth strips, like so:

Horsehead was a hit and my efforts were well appreciated. In fact, I won an award:

 

Here’s what my nominator had to say:

Not even out of probation yet, and accolades already! Not bad. 😀

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