For the past two and a half years, I have been what I affectionally refer to as a “libraryman”, or better yet, a man who works at a library (the name stems from a Penny Arcade comic which i became rather fond of once I got the job). Okay, so I didn’t have a library science degree (something required to be a librarian) and my nametag title was “Library clerk”- but I wholeheartedly disagree. I was a librarymans through and through- having to work with the public directly at the front desk, answer questions, check out books, look up when movies were to be returned and answer the phone- all at the same time, usually. It was a job I loved, a job I was happy to do time and time again. A job that I seriously considered pursing for a career. I speak with all of this in the past tense, because as of today, I am no longer a librarymans. I was laid off of my job yesterday. While this didn’t come as a shock (as I had my own gut feeling this would have been happening sooner or later, as rumors spread about the possibility of such a thing occurring had been reverberating around the library for a month or two beforehand), I’m sad to lose this job. Part of me thought that I could have kept that job until I graduate from college, at least. It was a job where I had coworkers that I considered to be another family in itself. A family of nutjobs, to be honest, and I say this in the happiest way possible. The family supported one another through thick and thin. When someone was feeling a bit under the weather, others would come in to help them out. When someone was hungry, we’d share food to keep them sated until the end of the day. We all really do care for one another, and do our best to help out the patrons there. This was a group of (mostly) women that would be there to help patrons however they could. Hell, even the patrons were amazing. There were regulars that would come on a certain basis- bi-weekly, weekly, even daily- to chat with about how their lives were. There was a history professor who knew how my school project were coming along and asked me how they were coming along as he checked out his mystery (and history) books for the week. The father of two girls who always came up to talk shop about the latest Apple news. The ex-gangbanger who would check out the biggest stack of films he could laughing as i told him my usually obtuse and random opinions on the films. The teacher who always struggled to get books back from her reading-frienzied students. They were all regulars I can remember looking forward to seeing day in, and day out. It all felt right to me. I’m writing this as a sort of catharsis for letting my emotions out. When I was finally able to tell people about my impending last day, there were looks of shock, looks of anger as i realized that I was a part of the patron’s lives as they were of mine. And that made the shortening time I working there even harder. I had so many memories from working there- the good, the bad, and those that made the job all the better. I held on to working there for as long as possible. And now that that last day is passed, I feel as if a chapter of my life has closed. One I wish could have lasted longer, or not have been closed before I had a chance to end it myself, on my own terms. When I read a recent piece at a Chicago FOX subsidiary contesting the usefulness of libraries, I recoiled and balked in horror. In the din of the everyday craziness that is modern life, to have a place of knowledge and quiet serenity such as the library should be considered to be a welcome haven for many. There were families who couldn’t afford to go to Blockbuster to check out movies, so they’d come in every week for free rentals from the library. Regulars from all sorts of race and age who would come in to enjoy books, CDs, and DVDs. If you wanted to see how much of a melting pot Southern California really was, you could just sit at the library and watch the commotion such a quiet place brings. There wasn’t a day when we didn’t have lines of people checking out books or getting new library cards. Having someone getting angry at me for the littlest thing. If you had an excuse for why the books you checked out were late, chances are, I’d heard it already from someone else. And i enjoyed that. I truly did. (if that doesn’t show how crazy I already am, I don’t know what does) (by the way- the followup from the Library Commissioner from Chicago to that Fox reporter is the best reaction to such sensationalist piece of journalism. The library is still a wonderful place, and even more so a resource more should use.) Yeah, I’m incredibly sad about what has gone on and where I plan to go in the future, but I suppose it’s for the best. I plan to shoot some short films while I get ready to apply for transfer to art schools- have a portfolio readied for the fall. Madness, considering I have about a month and a half to do so. (Anyone want to help?) But I’ll miss being a librarymans. Through thick and thin, it was a job I cared about. I was a proud librarymans.
One response to “Working at the Library”
Sorry to hear about the layoff. That is a bummer.
I worked as a page part time right out of high school while I was doing volunteer work. It was a great experience. We saw a huge increase in library usage and book checkouts after adding internet connected computers, which flew right in the face of what the mainstream media had predicted.
Patrons would see something of interest online, then come and ask us for books on the relevant subject.