Caveat: This post is in response to all three tags I have received from this meme on “How I found My way to libraries” By the Strange Librarian (who is not very strange,) by The Not A Tech (even though she is techie as hell,) and Jill, who writes at Digitization 101 and who is wonderfully both digital and analog + grounded also tagged me. So they are all three now dubbed the “sisters of irony. ™” T-shirts will be created in my CafePress store when I get the time.
So, how did I end up working in libraryland?
Well sit right down, grab a cup o’ you beverage of choice and let me tell you a story. I hope I don’t bore you. If you are short of time, just jump down to the Almost Bald Years.
My Short Afro Years
I started a long term love affair with books at an early age. I had plowed through Childcraft, Worldbook and later on read the Encyclopedia Britannica annuals when they came in the mail. My first Brooklyn Public LIbrary library still stands in East Flatbush. This branch with its very hip and then brand new 70’s Eastern Block Concrete look had some of the materials I wanted as a child, but for the motherlode, I would hop on two buses to get to the Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Branch.
Engraved on the front wall of this four floor library amusement park are the words “The Brooklyn Public Library through the joining of municipal enterprise and private generosity offers to all the people perpetual and free access to the knowledge and the thought of all of the ages.” Damn. I sent many entire Sundays inside the different rooms in the library, running through the six foot high card catalog drawers, and looking at the 2 story high call board where your reserve number would light up when your book was brought down from the stacks.
Fast forward a couple of years (mid 80’s) to my high school library where the library types, video/photo types and computer types all hung out in the same space. At my high school, the minicomptuers, mainframe esque computers, darkroom and video editing room were all within the 5 feet of the library. In fact, the book that started me down the path to who I am (The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut) was borrowed from this library.
My Dreadlocked Years
Fast forward to the early/mid 1990’s where I am working for a NYC nonprofit, providing adminsitrative support and technical assistance to community groups. A training program is formed and they needs “co-trainers” or training assistants. I started by bringing the food, producing packets, writing down answers on the flipcharts, and handling registration. Soon, I started to do small bits of trainings, then presenting trainings, developing and delivering specialized trainings (NYC 197-a Plans, Community Planning, Internet for Community Activists,) and running grant programs. On the side I was a technology and training consultant.
This all lead to a position with another nonprofit were I was the director of a citywide training and technical assistance program directed to NYC nonprofit groups. Best thing about the job was the location of the main offices. My desk had a great view of the Brooklyn Bridge. Sweet. During this time, the only things I seemed to buy were kitchenware and books. Many books.
My Almost Bald Years
You may or may not have noticed that most of the action of the previous paragraphs took place in Brooklyn/New York City. I got to my Maryland library thanks to the internet, specifically one small outpost called AOL. It was there that I met my then girlfriend, now wife, dated long distance. I was spending so much time down here that I got a library card for the library that was really close to the house.
After over a year of long distance dating, I took the plunge and moved here after 9-11 dried up many of the consultant gigs in New York City. I filed for unemployment because job prospects as a geek were not falliing into place down here as much as I would have liked.
One day I was talking to one of the circulation staff at a branch and she told me that the library was hiring. I figured that I liked books, had great benefits and I really needed to get a job since my unemployment was running out in a couple of weeks. So, I applied and was hired as the Sunday Circualtion Supervisor. That lead to a promotion to Circulation Supervisor. Then the person who held my position retired and I got the job.
So…how did I end up working for libraries?
I needed a job. And I got lucky.
There it is.
Now as is my style with these things..
I TAG YOU ALL.
I want to hear all about it.