R.E.M. Reads



R.E.M. reads–of course! This poster hangs beside my desk at Job 2, and it makes me so happy. I started listening to R.E.M. before I could read (thankyou Mum & Dad), probably around the time this poster came out.

That aside, the utter randomness of it pleases me. This isn’t a public library, so why was the poster purchased? How did it end up in a part of the library where it would only be seen by librarians? These little puzzles are all over historical buildings, and they make it so much fun to work in old places.

What makes you smile at your desk?

Browsing in LC


Most learning experiences are hard to quantify. After you’ve learned a new skill, it seems like something you’ve always known, something not particularly important.

Library of Congress call numbers were like this for me: I learned them when I arrived at the community college, because all I needed to know to get through my undergraduate degree was that the call numbers are read in a block, not number by number. After a year of pretending for the sake of alternately angry and petrified freshman that really, LC isn’t so bad, I managed to convince myself the same. There’s not much to it, really. If you squint at it sideways it even makes sense!

Fast forward to today, when I was researching a Spanish-language poet in a university library. Browsing takes on a whole new meaning in an institution that could hold the entirety of my community college library, reading spaces and all, a dozen times over. I had one call number and the firm belief that I, as a librarian, would either use my mad librarian skillz or my wide stubborn streak to find what it was I needed.

Upon arrival, I remembered that titles are a lot harder to read when half are sideways top to bottom, half are sideways bottom to top, half are in Spanish, and half are in English. And the Spanish literature section could eat my college’s English literature section. But the logic (feel free to snort derisively) of the call numbers is the same. My call number described a single lonely book about my author, but by reading sideways one way and then the other I oriented myself to the collection and browsed along to the books I needed. For the record, I think it was 50% skillz, 50% stubborn.

Finally, I felt like all those trips to the Poe section lit crit with the community college students were worth it: here’s how to use the reference books, now let’s do the circulating collection, here’s your limit of items, off to circulation you go. And again. And again. Now I can find literature criticism in LC too.



The Light Rail stop outside Burton Barr Library has a book-themed installation. The Thinker has been transformed into a row of bookends.



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Basta (Enough)

Job Hunting


After the Spring semester ended, my hours were slashed dramatically. This came as a bit of a surprise, but in the library market (perhaps all markets?) it’s not uncommon. Even still, I panicked a little bit. I have a dog, and my own place, and the thought that after seven years of education I would be unable to support my relatively modest needs was an awful thought to contemplate.

I felt that I was going to have to apply for every permanent position I saw and sign up for every short-term job I could find. I was sure that August would find me eating rice every other night and wearing my keyboard out applying for more jobs. The universe, perhaps because it heard the little voice that said maybe some more knitting time would be nice, decided that my vision would not come to pass. It decided that instead, I would find myself working full-time, albeit at four different organizations. Knitting time, ha.

It amazes me that the stars aligned in this way. At first, I was resolved to spend every spare moment searching for a permanent position, any position, even if I had to squint and hold the description sideways, with my thumbs over certain lines, to make it look good. I would be overwhelmed, I would be miserable, but by gad, I would get those applications out.

And then a friend asked me why.

The best answer I had for them was because. Because that was what I had been doing for so long. Because I couldn’t think of a faster way out of my predicament. I was not so far gone that I had to be told these were not particularly good reasons to be applying for jobs.

So I’m going to say enough. Enough rushing to the future. I’m going to focus on my present, and learn everything I can at each job. When I arrive in the new year, my experiences will better qualify me to do what I want in my career, and to compete for jobs that look good without squinting and looking at them sideways.