I’m heavily involved in detail work today. Lots of editing, comparison of lists to ensure that duplicate databases mirror one another, and administrative paper work are coming together surprisingly well to create a good Monday. My schedule for the week is filling quickly, and I feel that something is actually being accomplished.
Taking a wee break to rest the cognitive gears this morning, I read Amazing Things Found In The Stacks. With a laugh, I recalled the instances when streakers sped up & down the stacks of the university library in which I was once employed. It always seemed to happen on the third/top floor of the library and at each exam or mid-term period. Granted, everything of note that was to happen in the library seemed to happen up on the third floor. As I’ve mentioned, there were flashers and streakers, but also a variety of illicit invitations, romantic canoodlings, emotional tantrums & breakdowns, and love and drug deals made or broken with expected consequences. I still shake my head: How does exposing one’s wang to a study group of foreign students give one satisfaction? Why the library? Why, ay all? You know, I have a Psych degree, but I still don’t understand it. Perhaps I should make another trip into the texts found around the BFs?
Yes, I started out as a student assistant in one, then another, academic library throughout my undergraduate years. In fact, it was the experience of an academic library that inspired me to become a librarian. Things move quickly and, even before I completed my graduate LIS studies, I assumed the management of a law library. Really, it was running the full show as a solo act: loose-leafs, promotion, budgets, vendor negotiations, information literacy, alert services, research, and advocacy, amongst others, added spice to my day. It was business in support of the practice of law. This gig lasted for 2 ½ years, until I was cherry-picked into the Big Smoke to act as a research librarian for the legislators of the province. If you wish to learn professional-level office politics, spend some time in an office at the very heart of provincial politics. I moved on.
It is tough finding a professional librarian position in Canada. Competition is fierce for the handful of quality positions that are all-to-infrequently posted. Eventually, however, one was found and here I am. I find this corporate librarian gig in mergers & acquisitions interesting for the time being. Turn-around times are intense and fixed to an immediate (and dizzyingly stratospheric) dollar value; the quality of my work influences the outcome of business transactions. As the sole MLIS in-house, I approach my work as an advocate of the profession, promoting the ‘librarian’ as the ‘information professional’ in a forum where success for all is based upon accurate and timely information. I am acutely aware of the responsibility of organizing and disseminating company information. I enjoy my work and am proud of my contribution; however, I find myself increasingly missing the academic library experience, the original inspiration for my becoming a librarian. Exam-time crazies, the excitement of academic pursuit, the professional knowledge that the library is the center of learning, the collegiality, are aspects I wish to colour my profession life, as odd as that might sound. This is a rose-coloured perspective, I know, but in actuality my rose-coloured glasses fell to the side a while ago.
Turning to the experience of my professional colleagues, other than the obvious making application to positions available, what need I do to return to an academic library? I am concerned that I am pigeon-holed by the nature of my professional experience. Curiously, while many of my applications to academic libraries go unanswered, I am sometimes told that I have "insufficient experience". This comment never fails to make me laugh: four years professional librarian experience, coupled with a further six years library assistance experience is construed as “lack of experience”? What makes my lip curl, just a wee bit, is when the same position goes to a new graduate. I do congratulate and offer the very best wishes to every new grad.
It’s time for me to get back to work. There are no streakers here today, and all the stacks are ‘virtual’, but I can still hope....