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.