Friday, April 06, 2007

Humility Lesson

I worked in a public library for five years as a circulation clerk. It made me a very grouchy ladybug, indeed. I started out as this super-positive cheerleader and ended up as a disgruntled DMV-type worker.

Now, I do cataloging and receiving (and some acquisitions) behind the scenes and I really like it. I get to work in a library without being a librarian. Pretty cool. And I get to work in a brand new building (just opened last summer) full of green features. Because our library is something of showplace, the Dean and some of the librarians oftens lead tours through it. We are getting used to large groups of people coming through our work area to examine its layout, ergonomic features, etc.

Well, my position is brand-new and it has become increasingly clear to me that several of my
co-workers have no idea what I do. On tours through our work area, the librarians usually say something like:

"And here is J. She is our cataloguer. And here is D. She is our Acquisitions person. And here is [Malady]. She....well....she processes books."

Sometimes they will say cataloging. Sometimes they will just say "and here is [Malady]." But my favorite happened just the other day.

"And here is [Malady.] She does the mail."

I was drinking water and almost blew it out my nose. Now, there is nothing wrong with doing the mail. But do these people really think I work a 40-hour work week with a master's degree just doing the mail?!!!

Wow. I'm really under-employed.


cecily said...

I assume you went to library science school? It's something I'm thinking about...along with Montessori education. What's it like? I know that's a broad question, but hey...

P.S. Happy almost Easter to you, too. :)

Malady said...

Hi Cecily!

Actually, I have Master's degree in Anthropology. I started out in museums. When my grants dried up, I had to get creative and think about what other types of collections I could "manage." I ended up with a job at a public library. A lot of librarians start out in jobs like shelving or circulation before they commit to library school. And with experience, there are several jobs you can do in a library that don't require a MLS.