Monday, May 5, 2008

Do Not Feed the Librarian

I'm a librarian trapped in a circulation desk clerk's body. Most days I mindlessly check books out and reshelve those books that students have returned. Apparently being seated at the circulation desk places a visible-only-to-students sign over my head that reads "Do not feed. Do not ask reference questions." So not only do I receive no share of anyone's tasty treats (and what it is about finals that prompts students to bring in cookies by the truckload?) but I also rarely get to answer any interesting questions aside from "How much does it cost to print?" and "Where are the bathrooms?" At the Reference Desk at my former library job there was a badge that read "Ask me! Human Search Engine!" Although I hope the students here don't treat me like a computer, it is rather nice when I do get asked a question that actually requires me to put the gray matter to some use.

This is all about to change. I am being transferred (at my request, lest ye start to worry) to the new branch campus that is opening this fall. Brand new building. Brand new library. I don't know what my official title will be (other than "E-Schedule Staff") but I will be, to put it bluntly, in charge. I will no longer be "the circulation clerk". I will be the Librarian (for all intents and purposes). The college isn't promoting me (yet) to actual faculty status, though if we stay in the area for a couple of years I have no doubt that it will happen (due to SACS regulations regarding number of students requiring a full time librarian).

So what is actually happening is that I'm willing to be "taken advantage of" financially in order to be a branch director. Of course, it's all a matter of semantics. I'm a librarian now. Got the Masters on the wall to prove it. But here at the main branch I'm "low man on the totem pole". I work evenings. I haven't been here twenty years, so how can I possibly have any notion of what it means to work in a library? [off sarcasm] At the Cherokee Campus I will be the Librarian. I will get asked the questions. And assist students with their research. And order the books. (Alas, no cataloging - that will still be done on the main campus). The best part, you ask? It's a four-day work week. ::grin::

One of the evening part-timers and I will often chat when I get back from dinner. She gave me some good advice (if advice is what you call it). She told me that these months working here at the main branch are God's way of humbling me. Reminding me that I should look for no praise or glory on this world; that my reward will come in heaven. That ultimately whatever degree or position I have is not that important as long as I do my job well. And that when I am the "old timer" many years from now, I can use this time as a negative example. And you know what? She's right. If I ever have a staff of folks working for me, I know what kind of work environment is not conducive to a happy staff and getting things accomplished. So I've learned a lot about myself and about management styles (but that doesn't mean I have to enjoy it!) And I also know that God's refining fire will continue to burn as I struggle to follow the path set for me. And I have to think that this transfer is part of that plan, and that's a Good Thing.

Some folks around here like to joke that getting transferred to a branch campus is equivalent to being banished. If so, I'm really looking forward to Banishment Day!


darren said...

Perhaps you can throw a party on Banishment Day and remember all the other great people who were banished: Chrysostom, Athanasius, Thomas Becket.

Glad to hear you're moving on!

Zana said...

Well, I found out yesterday that my unofficial title will be "Branch Coordinator" (or Branch Supervisor, if I prefer).

And as long as they don't martyr me (Cranmer comes to mind) I'm happy to be among the banished!

Blondie said...

I found out - very early on - that my degree in pharmacy did not prepare me for the most asked question (at that time) in a retail pharmacy setting: "What aisle is the toilet paper on?" - I so understand your frustration!