Thursday, April 22, 2010

It Wasn't A Day......

I worked late last night, in a library that is forty minutes from my house (which is not ordinarily a long commute, but when you've got two children to care for....well, it can seem as if it takes forever to reach them), and I had to open this morning. Now this happens every week, but ordinarily I can handle it. I work enthusiastically, try to be productive, maintain patience even with the most difficult patrons.

Not today, though. Today I was in a mood. I just did not want to be here. I didn't want to work with people. I didn't want to teach a class. I longed for the weekend, to be at home, to be with my boys, to watch "All My Children," to sleep.

As strange as it sounds, being cranky felt so good. Very rarely do I take on the characteristics of a true grouch, and this time, when I did, I somehow managed to avoid allowing it to affect my customer service skills. Although several colleagues noticed my less-than-cheerful demeanor, I managed to keep it - for the most part - a secret.

And now the day is over. I survived my class, and the hours at the reference desk, and now I get to go home. And the mood will dissipate by tomorrow.

But oh, how good it felt today.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Yes, we have to give in a bit (okay, maybe a lot!). But when I wrote the last entry, I had no idea how steep the proposed budget cuts will be. It wasn't until I read the newspaper articles this weekend that the figure caught my eye - a 74% reduction in state aid to public libraries.

Eliminating duplicate databases is a reasonable course of action. Scrapping interlibrary loan - an enormously popular service - is not. Imagine telling a patron that we cannot get them a book that isn't owned by our system (and, as wonderful as our library is, there are plenty of them). That would be drastic. And that would be unacceptable.

The last governor did nothing with his position, did nothing to rectify the state's dreadful fiscal situation. I understand the current governor's desire to do something. But doing something takes considerable, careful thought. It does not involve taking a hatchet and chopping away at whatever services exist, but an examination of the consequences of the serious, drastic measures that are being proposed. And I hope, I pray, that the governor will do that. Because if he doesn't, then the people of the state are going to suffer.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Budget and Us

How nice it is to blog again. I've missed writing, and there really is no excuse for not keeping up with it for so long. I can say that I stopped before my younger son was born - but he's thirteen months old now, and although there were complications following his birth, I've been back at the library for some time. I'll have to promise myself that I'll write more often - if not every day, then at least once or twice a week.

The big issue right now is the disgraceful condition of the state's budget. Like representatives of other organizations, library advocates are fighting to maintain their share of the funds. Marketing has never been the traditional librarian's strong point, but suddenly it has become a task of utmost importance - only slightly less so than answering reference questions.

But I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about this particular campaign. Naturally, I'm a firm believer in the power of libraries, and I recognize the need to convey that message to the public. We can never stop advocating, can never stop working to disprove the theory that "everything" can be found on the Internet and that, therefore, libraries are worthless.

And yet, because of the current dire financial situation of the state, everyone is being asked to relinquish some of what they have. Teachers, public workers, and those in the private sector, too, have to sacrifice in order to rebuild the foundation from which we work. Why should librarians be spared? We don't live in a bubble; we live in a society, and we need to work together in order to improve the economy. That doesn't mean quitting, it doesn't mean ceasing to advocate, but it may mean purchasing fewer databases or even combining facilities.

Like any other reasonable person, I don't want to work with less. I don't want to have to offer my patrons a limited number of resources, don't want to cut down on the remarkable programs that we offer. But it is essential to acknowledge the reality of our situation. And so I refuse to participate in the mass hysteria that is being generated by some organizations.

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's Better When We Can Breathe

It was a strange Monday at the Branch, maybe because so many people are doing their holiday shopping. But those shoppers seem to have attacked the malls early, because the people who didn't visit the library in the morning did come during the afternoon. Since the crowds weren't spread out during the course of the day, as they usually are on a Monday, this meant that the lines were so long that we weren't able to breathe between patrons. It was a straight rush....reference and circ and circ and reference.....constant lines filled with people who had already spent so much time standing on line at the stores. There was no patience, no tolerance for a staff member taking a deep breath, or grabbing a quick seat....I'm exhausted.

But we survived. It's almost five o'clock and it's dark outside. Almost time to go home.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Movie The Day Before Thanksgiving?!

Every Wednesday, a colleague and I show movies at the library. Three times a month, we show a feature film; on the third Wednesday, I show an independent film. Usually, we have a fairly large audience - that is, an audience that is large enough to justify the funds that we spend on our movie license.

I have to admit, though, that I was wondering what we were thinking when we decided to show a movie today - the day before Thanksgiving. After all, most people are busy cooking, preparing to cook, dreaming of visiting rarely-seen family members, en route to their destination, or packing for the long trip. The books and DVDs that most people deem essential to the long weekend have already been borrowed, and there are few patrons in the library. When I asked the the movie-goers two weeks ago whether they'd be attending today, most people shook their heads.

I berated myself for scheduling a movie today, of all days, particularly since I've planned library programs for ten years. My experience should have taught me not to schedule programs so close to holidays! Canceling the movie was unthinkable, since fliers were posted and an announcement had already appeared in the local newspapers. I knew that we were going to have to set up the cumbersome movie equipment, only to have to remove it when the 2:00 start time passed without a single person waiting to watch the movie. I braced myself.

Instead, I was given a tremendous surprise, as fifteen people walked into the meeting room just in time for us to begin the movie. Have they already cooked their sweet potatoes, string bean casserole, or cranberry relish? Are their houses already cleaned for their guests? Or maybe they're traveling to their children's homes early tomorrow, bringing only a simple side dish that was prepared this morning, and are eager to do something to pass the time until they see their grandchildren again.

It doesn't matter. What is important is the fact that this program was a success, not a failure, that we've once again been able to provide an enjoyable program for our patrons, that setting up our laptop, projector, and speakers was not a waste of time. Sometimes, I guess, we are surpised. It's a great feeling. And a great way to begin the Thanksgiving weekend.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Programs, Programs, and More Programs (and a Problem)

During the past few weeks, hardly a day has passed in which I didn't have a program scheduled. This week, "my" Writers' Circle met on Tuesday, I showed the monthly independent film today, and I have a sing-along to Broadway showtunes tomorrow. As I've written in previous posts, I enjoy scheduling and publicizing various events, bringing people into the library, but now I'm exhausted - and I'm looking forward to a quiet day on Friday.

This afternoon I panicked when, while I was setting up the cumbersome equipment for the movie, the presenter for my Broadway showtunes program unexpectly entered the meeting room, quickly introduced herself to me, and asked to test the piano. Much to my dismay, she pronounced it "broken," untuned and problematic in the foot pedals. Nearly hysterical, she informed me that the audience would be extremely disappointed unless we could repair it before the 2:00 event. While I was trying to digest this information, and untangling the wires for the film projector and the laptop, another staff member informed me that a presenter for yet another possible program was returning my telephone call (naturally, our longstanding game of telephone tag was destined to continue, since I couldn't possibly take the call at that time).

I spoke to our Branch Manager about the piano situation. After gently admonishing me for failing to ensure that the instrument was tuned prior to the event (I admit that I had simply taken this for granted), she asked another employee to obtain the names of piano tuners from the staff at our Main Branch. Unfortunately, none of the specialists she called were able to come to the library at a moment's notice. This means that tomorrow I'll be in the embarrassing position of apologizing to our audience (which will, according to our registration sheet, consist of approximately 35 people).

I'm trying to assure myself that our patrons will enjoy themselves despite the apparently unmusical quality of the instrument (not being the least bit musical in any sense, I can't distinguish between a tuned piano and an untuned piano). I'll have to wait until 2:00 tomorrow to determine whether my guess is correct (unless, by some miracle, a piano-tuner suddenly arrives to rescue me tomorrow morning). But now, more than ever, I am looking forward to Friday.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

2009 Programs

I'm currently searching for attention-grabbing programs for January and February. Cooking demonstrations and de-cluttering seminars are possibilities. I'm also looking toward the far future: applying for another grant to host our Jewish Book Discussion Series (which has been a phenomenal success for the past two years) in the fall of 2009.

More importantly, I'm preparing for a personal event: the birth of my second son in March. Although it's still early, I'm trying to tie up loose ends before my maternity leave.

Returning to work after my first son was born was heart-wrenching. I cried throughout my drive to the library. This time will be just as traumatic, I'm sure.

But I'm not going to plan that far ahead. Yet.