Sunday, November 19, 2006

A good library is a place, a palace where the lofty spirits of all nations and generations meet.

(Samuel Niger)

There was no fanfare, no celebratory cards, but woo hoo, yesterday was the fourth anniversary of me working at my library!! Although I worked for Fox Books, the company, for seven years, it was one, one, three and three in three different locations. So for me, this is a milestone. I didn't even go to college in the same place for four years!

Our library is huge (we have about 100 employees, counting the folks that only work weekends and/or nights). We serve five municipalities and we are blessed at the moment with a decent budget. We definately have an upstairs/downstairs culture, since I have no reason to go upstairs unless to buy pop in the library store or browse through the stacks. (Circulation used to be upstairs but now it's downstairs since the renovation.) Upstairs is Adult Services, so that's 90% Librarians except for a few folks in the computer center that are Library Assistants. Downstairs is more of a mix: Children's, Circulation, Administration, and Tech Serv (i.e. the rest of us, a hodge podge of Clerks, Library Assistants, Librarians, and what have you.)

Librarians and support staff are 98% women (we have 3 men on full time staff, one man who works nights and weekends, and some teenage boy shelvers) and so I've learned how to work with women. It's different--the bookselling world at least in Pittsburgh was male dominated. In Virginia it was more balanced, probably due to the fact that the job market is completely different! (There are real jobs for smart men in Virginia. In Pittsburgh, well, we're working on it, I guess.) (Sorry, let me rephrase that: men who graduated with a liberal arts not engineering degree.)

It's cool, though. We have women in every stage of life. When I broke my tailbone last year, everyone had their own "I broke mine too" story. We have many cancer survivors. We have moms and grandmas and five single childless women. Divorcees, widows, we have it all! Two moms have kids with special needs and we even have one mom and daughter that both work at our library.

I've been to one funeral (for a co-worker's husband). The woman that held the position in Tech Serv that I now hold died right after I took the job, and recently there was a funeral for a woman who worked at the library over four years ago. A lot of folks went. I just missed working with her--she retired right before I started.

People change departments, job descriptions--at least two librarians started as clerks in Circulation. Two librarians that now work in adult services used to work in Children's. Hiring from within is definately part of our culture. When I was having problems two years ago and Gabrielle was leaving to spend more time with her kids, my boss boss and my boss in the Children's dept thought I might like splitting my job between Kid's and Tech Serv. Me, who had never taken a cataloguing class in Library School, except for the core class which is now called "Organizing Information." I don't have the heart of a cataloguer and the detail oriented-ness sometimes drives me up a wall, but I do alright. The fact that I was basically handed the job means the world to me. My boss in Tech Serv has a heart of gold. (She is not universally well liked by all as she is rather talkative in meetings and stands up for her beliefs, but we in Tech Serv stand by her.)

Most folks live in the vicinity and laugh that I drive a half hour to get to work. But I like my commute, it gives me a chance in the morning to prepare myself and in the evening to decompress. When gas prices skyrocketed a year or so ago, everyone teased that I'd need to find a place closer to work. So far (thankfully) it hasn't come to that. My mom, as an elementary teacher, talks about not going to the same swimming pool as her students, not seeing them in the grocery store. I like that separation of work and where I live. Besides, my church is here in the city, where I live. I like that it's less than a mile away and if I wasn't a white woman and my church didn't meet at night I'd probably walk to church. But this post is about my library, so I digress.

I have never felt about a place that "This is the place I could retire from" and for me, retirement will be in 25 years or more, but I feel that about this library. It's a place that I know will support and encourage me when I go back to school and if marriage and a family become a part of the mix, I know that I'll be able to work my schedule around those events too. Plus, I have a host of women to celebrate each moment along the way.

And next year, when it's five years, I'll get a special certificate and a pin at the Staff In-Service Day! Woo hoo!

(No, I won't tell you where I work. It's a library in the North Hills of Pittsburgh but it shall remain nameless for the sake of this blog.)


MsCellania said...

Happy Anniversary, SL!!!
What a wonderful place to work. Enjoying not only your career, but your actual job, is HUGE.

Paula said...

It's good to find a place where you belong.

Happy Anniversary!