Hardworking Library

A little over two weeks into the new school year, I have a couple of impressions to offer.

Gone, mostly, are the rambunctious, disrespectful teens after school that we have gotten used to in previous years. We've always prepared ourselves for battle to protect the atmosphere of the library for those who come to actually use the library, but the really rotten apples, the gangster wannabes with their grilles and their sagging pants, have become scarce. The sheriff's deputy has especially remarked upon it. He offered today that it might be because of the change in school hours. I wonder whether there is more to it. I think that our President has provided an example for everyone to see, that not only is success more than the selfish pursuit of luxury and wealth, but that it is cool to be smart. That to refuse to learn, for fear of "acting white", is for losers. "Brothers should pull up their pants", says the man.

With the job market what it is, I am also seeing signs of increasing numbers of people studying harder in school and returning to school to qualify for better jobs. The demand for test preparation guides for high school advanced placement courses, for college entrance exams, for professional certification, and for post-graduate studies is at a high. I've never, until now, I think, seen every single book for the GRE checked out. The library offers online test preparation for most of these examinations through Learning Express. I always follow up a test prep book request, whether we have it on the shelf or not, with a demo of Learning Express, and often they will choose it instead.

There is a serious, focused mood among our users, and among the staff as well. Reduced staff due to budget cuts has all of us working harder, sharing tasks that were not ours a couple of years ago, and, unfortunately, letting important but less critical aspects of librarianship slide for now. All of us who remain are rowing together for all we are worth, keeping the ship afloat. The need for library services has never been greater.


Mercedes said...

The start of a new school year has made a difference. There is a mentally challenged young man that spends 3.5 hours waiting for his family to pick him up. The first time he plugged up the toilet I thought it was an accident but when I was using the plunger and mopping the floor the second time in a week it became obvious he is bored. One of my co-workers is in library school and a recent class discussion on access points involved how wonderful it would be if picture books were shelved by color. All the red books on the top shelf while the blue books are on the middle shelf.....aaaahhhhh the solace of the ivory tower. The hard times we find ourselves living through has increased the socialwork aspect of our job. I wonder if the present curriculum reflects that.

Brett said...

I just read a brief item in the new LJ about Alachua County opening a new library facility with offices for social services built in. It's not a bad idea. The local DCF Access Florida service center is way out on Sharer Road, hugely inconvenient for people who must walk or take a bus.

LIS schools only address information needs, though to their credit they do try hard to address those needs with empathy and an open mind.

It was a great time for me, getting away from the trenches to think about the nature of information from the mountain top. Gives me a pang to remember it now, amid the ringing phones and endless expectant faces.

I don't know, maybe I'm glad they didn't tell me about the idle poor, the dirty bathrooms, the broken equipment.