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Thursday, July 10, 2014


What's it all about, Alfie?
Why did I do this?
Why did I spend two years busting a hump to finish a second masters at Clarion?
I'm not sure it was worth it.

I have a feeling that there's two kinds of librarian candidates out there.

The first is more knowledgeable in librarianship than technology.
The second is more knowledgeable in technology than librarianship.
I have a sinking feeling that I should have become the second kind by going to Rutgers, taking their preset list of 12 classes, get the MLIS (and better chances at jobs).

105 applications out there, and I haven't had a college interview in six weeks.  The fall is getting larger in the window every minute, and there's nothing I can do to stop it. Maybe it's like K-12 teaching, and everyone waits to the last minute. But I don't think so.

I'm good at what I do. I know it. Why am I not communicating that to people?  What is wrong with me? What is wrong with what I have to offer?

Can someone give me a heads up as to what I'm doing wrong? I don't honestly have a clue.


St. Jerome, pray for me!

*--Burt Bacharach and Hal David, 1967

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Day in the life*, opus 6

Day one of the new Spring City Library is about to take place.  There's still a ton of little things to do/find/put away/clean, but we're as ready as we can be.
10 am: we're open!
1130 am: first chance to breathe. I've been nonstop activity since the doors opened. Fifteen preschoolers for story time; the computers have been a flurry of activity; people genuinely glad to be here (including me); processed five new library cards (there were weeks that went by that I didn't do that many at the old location) and updated a sixth. Whew!
1255 pm: just finishing up lunch.  I hate ordering out ($$$) but we never know how busy we'll be. Currently two kids in the reference section filling in library card apps.
415 pm: I spent much of the afternoon working on a draft of a presentation I hope to give this fall at the Music Library Association Atlantic Chapter Fall meeting in Philadelphia.  Lots of oohs and aahs from patrons who are walking in here for the first time, but not much else foot traffic.  One of our computer regulars, Mr. M., has been in three times, along with one of our hearing-impaired patrons, also a Mr. M.

I have to confess, I've enjoyed today.

*--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Everything Old Is New Again*

I haven't seen the inside of the newly constructed Spring City Public Library yet.  New furniture and furnishings, light, bright and clean--or so I'm told. Same books/CDs/DVDs/magazines as before. I hope it's nice.  I know that being busy (for a change) will be nice.  I'll see it for the first time Monday, and I'll be the first employee there on the first day it's open. More later.

*--Peter Allen and Carole Bayer Sager, 1974,

PS: Welcome to my new visitor from Lithuania! 29 countries and counting!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Impossible Dream*: the quest for the perfect library collection

One of my favorite books is Chaim Potok's The Gift of Asher Lev. Halfway through the book, the titular character, a world-famous artist, has an imaginary encounter with Pablo Picasso, who derides every aspect of the man's work and philosophy on art.  He says, in part: "You know what a painter is, Lev? A painter is a collector who wants to create a collection for himself, and he does this by painting himself the pictures he loves by other artists."

Is it just me or do some librarians approach collection development in a similar way?  Do we collect for our community, or for ourselves?  To what extent do we check our egos/feelings/opinions at the library door?  Inquiring minds want to know.

*--from Man of La Mancha; music by Mitch Leigh, lyrics by Joe Darion, libretto by Dale Wasserman. Based on Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, which was also the basis for a 1959 "straight" play by Wasserman. 1965.

PS: Happy 100th blog post!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Leader of the Band*, opus 2

I watched my son graduate from high school today, along with 400+ other students.  He's thrived at his new school, and it makes me proud that he buckled down and did his work, and sad that we didn't do it sooner. Parents learn as they go, I guess, just like our kids.  I would guess that he finished somewhere in the middle of the academic pack--two of his close friends finished 3rd and 4th in the class respectively--but distinguished himself as an immensely likeable kid, one who has made and kept friends easily. He's learned a lot of tact--how NOT to say something even if it's all too tempting.  He builds people up and has a ease about him that is already serving him well. He won awards for drama and music at the senior honors assembly, not because he applied for them, saying, "look at me!", but because people already looked at him and saw something they liked.

He's headed off to a Division II school for technical theater (sound/lights/sets/props etc.). I don't tease him about majoring in "stage crew" because as a theater person myself I know how invaluable competent people are in that field, and as one of my composer friends pointed out, if he lands a union gig in a major city, he can out-earn the actors he's working for (but I'll never tell HIM that).  I have friends and acquaintances making good money in the field, so more power to him.

I realize this wasn't precisely about my library work, but I needed to say something.  I am still, after all, a family man.

My family is growing up.  Hallelujah!


*--Dan Fogelberg, The Innocent Age, 1981.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

In the Beginning*

In the Beginning, God created the heavens and the earth; and the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep...
--The Bible, Genesis 1:1-2; also opens American composer Aaron Copland's 1947 choral anthem In the beginning)

"All beginnings are hard". So said Chaim Potok in the opening of his 1975 novel, In the Beginning. The story revolves around the Lurie family, an Orthodox Jewish family in New York City, in the depths of the Great Depression.  He battles health issues in his early years, bullies in elementary and high school, and the doubts and fears that come with being on your own as he enters adulthood.  In a sense, I've entered that same sphere of angst and drama with the job search--a sense of lack of worth, the seemingly endless waiting for emails and calls for phone and in-person interviews, the complex issues of being resigned to stay where I am and not wanting to bloom where I'm planted.

Am I ungrateful? Am I angry? The Christian Catholic in me says yes to both; my gut (which I wish was more in tune with my faith) says I'm entitled.  I'm fighting these microcosmic wars on a constant basis No one listens and no one wants to listen. It makes me wonder when my turn will come, or if where I am is my turn.

I'm not going to let this turn into the Great American Rage against the System. It is, after all, a beginning. Onward.

--Chaim Potok, In the beginning, 1975.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Day In The Life*, part 5.

Nancy dropped me off at 845 this morning. Three newspapers awaited me at the door--the Pottsville (PA) Mercury, the Phoenixville (PA) Phoenix, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. An added bonus--a double serving of the first two.  I guess it's to make up for the times they missed.  I'll clip the coupons and give the rest of the paper to any patron who wants it.
900am: Sandy (PT co-worker, paraprofessional) walked in.  She worked the paging list after I created it.  A short one today, just 9 items.  They've been a little on the light side since the flood in the children's area (a hot water pipe burst early on a Sunday morning, about a month ago.  We lost about 3800 titles, mostly children's lit, children's non-fiction, some large-print editions, and graphic novels.)
955am: opening in five minutes; gotta run for now.  No van deliveries, so it'll probably be a typical light Saturday.

1030-1130am: A library card update and a new patron card.  The new patron is carrying a very cute 9 1/2 month-old boy who seems very interested in things going on around him. One of the crew brings back a bunch of books, as does one of our home-schooling dads.  Still, it's been quiet for the most part.  I have to make a sign for the cookie bake-off contest.  It'll be a difficult chore--no really, I have no date or time or categories or rules to plug in.  We'll give it a shot anyway.

1140am:  I eat my lunch (leftover stirfried curried chicken and brown rice, and a Granny Smith apple), and return to the Internet.  Maybe I'll work on my job list and get caught up this afternoon.
*--John Lennon and Paul MacCartney, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967.