A Day in the Life. Just One.

Last time we did the Day in the Life I had a library, and I don’t anymore.  It’s amazing to me how much the loss of my library affected my attitude towards my job and this profession.  These days, i don’t think libraries are taken seriously.  We are used when we are needed, and when we are not needed, we are stuffed aside, hidden in a closet, shut out.  We don’t have the voice in our communities our users do, our users don’t listen when they don’t need us, and we don’t have the ear to gain the tools we need to preserve our spaces, our initiatives, our livelihoods.  I see the incredible change libraries face, and I cannot help but feel the serious loss of respect, of place, in learning that libraries are suffering.  Now, our librarians must struggle to reach out for the attention of our users.  Now, our spaces hold less books, less browsing, and more ‘other stuff.’  Change is inevitable, it will happen, but I feel that learning environments are quickly overlooking the value of the library and the knowledge managers who work so hard to steward the information contained therein.

Today I sat in a small office I share with an employee of Harvey Mudd College.  Last year, my library stood on this campus.  This year, my library is gone, and empty shell of a building still waiting for the developments and blueprints, furniture and initiatives.  HMC is very kind to me; they did not have to offer me a place to sit, but they did so as some understand the loss the library means to the users.  I feel it keenly, as well.  I answer less questions.  I teach less classes.  I see less people. Gone is the serendipity of discovery as a faculty or a student wanders through the library and encounters me and asks about a topic or trend.  Now, I am hidden away and harder to find.  Yes, I could work harder to re-create what I *had* in the library, and *create* a more obvious place to be, but I am tired.  I’ve tried for seven long years and lost what mattered most to me in my professional life anyway.  I don’t think I have much more I can give.

So now I am no longer the Sprague Science Librarian, but instead a numbered drone hiding away on the Research and Development team.  I have the ear of the innovators in the library, and that is nice, but it is not the same.  The flavor, the joy, is gone.  My days are empty exploration of people’s twitter streams and new tricks and tools via the feeds dumped into my email.  It’s so hollow, though, and void of depth and substance.  It’s just the shiny glitz, not the deep blue sea of yesteryear. Occasionally I visit my books, my precious bookies I once cared for, crammed away in the compact shelving on the first floor.  Their saving grace is that they share the floor with the cafe.  I’m glad for them, and I hope the young science learners come for the coffee and muffins, and run their fingers along the spines of the books, perhaps selecting one or two to take away with them.

So I think this will conclude my “Day in the Life” sharing; I’m losing interest, lost and listless, and I shall stand aside to let others shine.

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One thought on “A Day in the Life. Just One.

  1. Scott

    We still love ya, Jez, and we value what you are and do. I can’t tell you how saddened I am that your world has been so hollowed out, and I don’t know what the solution is going to be. We’re in a time of enormous upheaval, and I don’t think any of us knows into what the “library” will morph.

    If the library of the 21st century is worth a tinkers’ damn, though, it’ll have folks like you running it. May a new intellectual space find you that gives free reign to your talents.

    Reply

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