Thursday, August 10, 2017

Even with the Teacher Holding an Orange

My job offers a speed-mentoring session every third month. Senior librarians share career insights and advice with young librarians grateful for a job here, greedy for a job there. I am not Librarian. I flunked library school, it blew, I blew. I do not have an MLS. Quickly: I've been asked to be a regular mentor. People - staffers - requested me. By people I mean two, I think.

Staffers (not me) go. If I go to library school, will there still be traditional librarian jobs in twenty years? (No.) That's a excellent question I would ask of a senior librarian if I was twenty-five and looking into serious student debt. I can't wait to say that in the same room with senior librarians. And what the fuck does anyone want to ask me? that I can answer in front of senior librarians.

I said yes. I am told I can, at any time, change my mind and say no without taint, and of course there would be lasting taint, faint taint but permataint, but that's not why I said yes.


Denise Duhamel

I just didn’t get it—
even with the teacher holding an orange (the earth) in one hand
and a lemon (the moon) in the other,
her favorite student (the sun) standing behind her with a flashlight.
I just couldn’t grasp it—
this whole citrus universe, these bumpy planets revolving so slowly
no one could even see themselves moving.
I used to think if I could only concentrate hard enough
I could be the one person to feel what no one else could,
sense a small tug from the ground, a sky shift, the earth changing gears.
Even though I was only one mini-speck on a speck,
even though I was merely a pinprick in one goosebump on the orange,
I was sure then I was the most specially perceptive, perceptively sensitive.
I was sure then my mother was the only mother to snap,
“The world doesn’t revolve around you!”
The earth was fragile and mostly water,
just the way the orange was mostly water if you peeled it,
just the way I was mostly water if you peeled me.
Looking back on that third grade science demonstration,
I can understand why some people gave up on fame or religion or cures—
especially people who have an understanding
of the excruciating crawl of the world,
who have a well-developed sense of spatial reasoning
and the tininess that it is to be one of us.
But not me—even now I wouldn’t mind being god, the force
who spins the planets the way I spin a globe, a basketball, a yoyo.
I wouldn’t mind being that teacher who chooses the fruit,
or that favorite kid who gives the moon its glow.        


  1. Let's genericize, so that we're not really talking about some wealthy entity at the summit of some rise in the Earth's crust, shall we?

    Let's say that entity has some crusty old fart of an employee, and he fits in professionally by virtue of institutional knowledge and experience, rather than credentialing (sorry if I'm about to delve all meritocratic here, socialist friends). He's some number of years from retirement that is, say, less than five. He is vital in the sense that it would be massively functionally inconvenient to the credentialed anal retentives who surround him (full disclosure to the unwary: it's sure possible that I have extensive experience managing precisely the same flavor of overcredentialed featherbedding fussbudgets, and while I respect their functional utility in certain settings, I loathe their phenotype and only humanly tolerate the ones who are clinically classified as "recovering") if he were to vanish; hence, a form of toleration.

    Let's say he speaks truth to power, for instance,the truth that the field is changing dramatically and is already, let alone in 20 years,an adjunct function to the larger information science discipline, an adjunct that already engenders limited respect (but, I must stress,some utility) outside of academia.

    WTF are they gonna do to our beloved crusty old fart? Fire him? Go for it, bitches, he'll sue you so big he'll be taking all his friends on a cruise to Tibet. More likely, try to make him hate his job more than he already does? It's his call, of course, but I have a hard time believing anyone can show me math that works, there.

    The moral: The greatest benefit of being a crusty old fart is being a crusty old fart. Enjoy it.

    And to those who are so far inside that they get to ask me, "How did that work out for you, Andy?", the best answer I can give you is, "Bite me."

    1. It's complicated by my immediate boss who is deeply resentful I was asked and is a small humorless vindictive human. I'm told by the person who solicited me to mentor that people want to talk to me about (among other things) working for small vindictive humorless humans. There are good chances for comedy, so I *do* plan on enjoying it.

    2. You know I endorse enjoying comedy where you find it. And yeah, you know every bit as well as I do that small humorless vindictive persons are not unusual in the hallways of credentialism.

  2. Years ago and in another universe I took a library tech course at the local community college after I was unable to find work in my day job field as an electro/mechanical designer thanks to Bill "Blowjob" Clinton and his signing of NAFTA. I sort of enjoyed the course even though the class was full of women who seemed to resent the presence of a male in their class (not all though). Part of the course required volunteer work so I went to an interview at the Stanford University library where I met this librarian who seemed to be a chip off of Adolf Hitler. She didn't like me (I didn't like her) so she rejected me. Later I did volunteer work at the Palo Alto library. The head librarian there was this ferocious young woman who moved like a battle ship plowing through the sea. She had steely eyes that she used to intimidate anyone in her immediate vicinity. I don't think she liked anyone. I spoke with the techs working there and found that they all had three or four jobs all part time as libraries didn't offer full time positions or at least not many. I decided that I really wanted no part of working in a library, not a nice atmosphere at all. It wasn't like anything I had imagined. Also the tech work was dull and repetitive and not very interesting in any way. The pay also sucked. I came away from the class with knowledge on how to do research in university library which was kind of interesting but not very useful.
    The community college tried to shut the class down three quarters of the way through the course but we convinced them this was unfair and we were able to finish the course. In hindsight I can see why the college wanted to end the course. Right about that time the city of San Jose (CA) opened a library branch that was fully automated and had no employees actually working on there. That's probably the future of libraries. Robotics is the future so forget plastics.