Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Saturday, January 26, 2002

Aha! I have finally made it back online from home! I am somewhat embarrassed to say that I did so on the back on the giant tortoise known as AOL Time Warner, but really, what else was I going to use that CD for, it's not like you can rewrite those pressed discs. Actually, in about 8 days I should be getting a DSL connexion via my phone company, but I couldn't wait that long. So now I should be able to blog/rave regularly.

What, you may ask, was the first thing I did with my newfound freedom? I went to The Sims Website to download utilities so I could make my own faces/bodies for my Sims. Too much time on my hands, you say? Well, my clutch cable broke on my car the other night, so it's this or Spider Solitaire.

I was quite pleased to find that this blog is listed on a page of libraristic links. You'll find lots of other great librarian pages (intentionally left vague) there as well. I suppose that means I should, on occasion, talk about being a librarian.

Librarians come in all shapes, sizes, colours, and flavours. I have met very few of the "stereotypical" shhh-ing librarians; I have, however, noticed that there is a "look" that librarians acquire by the time they're in their thirties. I am also appalled that I, indeed, look like a librarian. This look is as follows:

  • The librarian (if female) wears her hair in a professional bob or shorter, or, if still in their 60s phase (even if she wasn't around then), then her hair will be parted in the middle, allowed to hang naturally down as long as she can get it to grow.

  • The librarian (if male) either wears clothes that are comfortably academic (sweaters, tie, etc.), or if he is angling for an administrative position, he'll opt for a suit. This is also true of female librarians. Solo librarians are an exception. They don't have to worry about anyone replacing them from the ranks (no one in their organisations even understands what they do, much less can expect to go for even a few days without a librarian in place). They dress however they can and still get by under the dress code. If elected to office, they may dress up to be taken seriously. If not, they may dress down to prove that they are not constrained by the fetters of corporate ladder climbing.

  • Glasses are normal for librarians, because most of us have spent too much time reading small print and have allergies to mould and dust that prevent us from wearing contacts. If the glasses are only needed for reading, the librarian may opt for one of those little holders that allow the glasses to hang from the neck. Of course, now people are wearing glasses to look chic. We never realised we were such trend-setters. Those librarians who deal with a lot of technology, LANs, or web authoring will either have special glasses for computer work or have necks in a permanent backwards angle from looking through raised bifocals.

So you think you've identified a librarian in its native habitat, the stacks (or the computer room). How can you tell it is a librarian, and not one of the closely related species, the library technician or the certified school library media specialist (as opposed to the professional school media specialist. Like birds, librarians have different families of categorisation. Well, someone with the letters MSLS, MLS, MLIS, or in some cases even MIS, is most likely a librarian. If he/she also have a teaching certificate, he/she is probably a professional school media specialist. If he/she is a teacher who has not completed a master's in library science but has completed a certification programme in school media, then he/she is a certified school media specialist. If the person works in a library but does not have the degree, he/she is a library technician. If he/she does have the degree but is working in a technical position, then he/she probably had the job prior to getting the degree and hasn't been able to find a professional (read higher-paying) job yet. If he/she is in a professional position, he/she may be paid anything from squat to comfortable and may be doing the work of anywhere between one and several technician and administrative positions at the same time. That's the great thing about librarians--they're a versatile bunch.

Librarians come in all kinds. School librarians/media specialists, academic librarians, public librarians, medical librarians, law librarians, special librarians, topical librarians, archivists, conservators, prison librarians (meaning that they serve prisoners, but I suppose there are librarians in prison, too), military librarians (and yes, they have rank), government librarians--you name it, if it exists, there's probably a librarian for it. Marvel Comics advertised for a librarian a few years ago. There are librarians on NPR (I love it when they get thanked). I've talked with librarians on Galapagos, in the Arctic, in the middle of the Mojave--they can be found just about anywhere. There are opportunities (including Fulbright fellowships) for librarians to do foreign exchanges and lend their experience to people in other countries. It's actually one of the few fields I've ever seen where there is such breadth with an opportunity for specialty, tracks for those who want to teach, to manage, to program, etc. In short, being a librarian is like entering a world where you know you're really needed and the trick is to persuade people who don't understand what you do why they need you. It's great. It's fantastic. It's frustrating at times, but worth every bit of it. So remind me some time when I'm dumping on my vocation. :) Well, that's enough pontificating about my field for tonight. I think it's all gone to my head. I'll blog again soon (really, this time!)

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