I worked at the library today

The local library is hiring for a three hour per week job because they got some money and decided to expand the library hours. This is great news. Unfortunately, they need to hire a person to help out during some of those hours and it’s hard to find someone who wants to make a commitment for a job that pays less than $25 a week. The library — which I have been working for helping them with their website and their OPAC — asked if I would train to be an on-call librarian there and that’s what I’ve been doing.

The funny joke about all my weird techie/bloggy/travelling stuff is that I started down this path because I wanted to live in the country and I didn’t want to be a teacher, work in the post office or be a police officer. I mean I like books, love to read and love to help people, but first and foremost I wanted to be a small-town librarian. This is the first “job” I’ve had where I actually did that. All my other jobs have been at larger libraries, school libraries or the weird circuit rider library job that I mostly do now. So I got to train on things I’ve never really learned before like how to use the circulation system and the barcode reader, how to operate the lift, how to transfer a call, how to keep teenagers happy but civil, how to call people and leave a message that their books on hold are are in without saying what the book is, you know the drill.

And, it should come as no surprise that this work was hard, and interesting, and engrossing and kept me so busy I didn’t check my email for three hours which is unusual for me during a work day. Michael Stephens and Michael Casey discussed the need for many of us with specialized jobs to switch off with other people, walk a mile in their shoes, or work a shift at their desk, to get an idea of what their real challenges were. Its good advice.

One of the librarians and I had a good laugh over thinking about the idea of IM reference for the YA librarian who has to monitor the teen computer area and is rarely near her own desk. There may be ways of making it work, sure, but in the abstract it was a totally ridiculous idea given how she works. It’s good for techie people like me to know that before we start offering our oh-so-helpful advice. Anyhow, I had a good but tiring day. Apropos of Banned Books Week I also like their title “Going to the Field” which reminds me of this part of one of my favorite poems by Wendell Berry.

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

IM me. IM me?

I tried to go swimming at the pool this weekend and went through a long comedy of errors trying to figure out when the pool and/or the school that I swim at was open on Easter Sunday. The Vermont Technical College’s library, which I love incidentally, has a script running on their home page telling you when the library is open that day. This is great except when it’s innacurate. The library didn’t open at 3 on Easter. I don’t think it opened at all. The phone message at the pool said that they would open at 1, but they were closed (even though the schedule on the door said they would be open) and the phone message read the hours but then said “except for official holidays” which it suggested you call the registrar’s office for. I wound up swimming later in the day, this wasn’t such a big deal. I did get an email back from the pool coordinator (good!) which told me that the schedule on the door was correct. I had seen the schedule, and related to her that it wasn’t correct (bad!). I thought, as I often do in these situations, that this is how some people view their libraries.

However, this is a post about IM. One of the channels I tried to figure out what was up with the pool was to IM my friend Stan who goes to school at VTC to see if he knew. Through a mysterious set of circumstances, I had two Stans on my IM list (probably some aggressive renaming on my part) and I had an interesting IM conversation with a person who wasn’t Stan but who was clearly an IM reference whiz. Even though she lived hours away she gave me the best information of any of the sources I tried. Turns out she’s a librarian I knew but didn’t recognize the IM. Once I Googled her IM handle and read her blog it also turns out that we had been listening to the same Buzzcocks song earlier in the day.

This is all just a lead up to tell you to go look at Michael Stephen’s IM Reference post where he answers some questions posted by another librarian and shares some stats and links to more stats. My library, which I am crazy about, just started being available via IM and I’ll be interested to know how this works out for them.