Saturday, January 16, 2010

small towns and libraries

My excuses for not blogging: three days of hosting Christmas and a week of recovery afterward, so I got out of the habit. Getting sick -- stomach thing for two weeks and a cold in the middle. Lazy. Facebook. Facebook, Facebook, Facebook. The challenge of FaceBook is to be as concise and pithy as I can in my status, unlike bloviating all over my blog. And no one gets into a dialogue on my blog, whereas the right status update can generate quite a discussion.

Enough excuses. Now's the time to write. I've had my tea, Lily is upstairs playing with a new sleep-over friend, Dave is at the Hill Institute registering for beginning carpentry (for him) and beginning sewing (Lily). The Hill Institute, which offers kindergarten as well as adult and youth classes, is amazing: cheap, great instruction, really nice teachers. People line up two or three hours beforehand to register for their classes. He and Lily will really like those classes. Dave's also going to go to CitizenSchool, hosted by the mayor's office. That'll be 10 weeks of learning about city government, taxes, budgets, all kinds of things. So he has a really interesting spring coming up.

When he signs up for things like carpentry and CitizenSchool, when I can drive over to the vocational high school for my H1N1 vaccination and be done in 10 minutes, no wait, I reflect on what he said this week: We live in a small town. Actually he said we live in a train set town. We have a grocer, a fruit stand, a bakery, and also a jail, a courthouse, a school, and hey, we even have a train! With any luck we'll have Amtrak coming through here in the next few years. Cross your fingers. It's just like those Lionel villages. Kind of hilarious.

The Bermuda Triangle of the end of year holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's, is now over. The weather is kinda yucky (see next post), and I have my own interesting spring coming up. I start grad school in two weeks. In case I hadn't mentioned it, I am about to start at Simmons College for library science. Simmons, which is based in Boston, has a satellite campus here on the Mount Holyoke campus, and I am starting with "cataloging" and "reference" (dum dee-dum-dum) (everyone sighs at reference and talks about how intense it is and how much work). That's all day Saturday, two three-hour classes, from the 30th until early May.

For a couple of months now I've been frequently asked if I am getting excited, which just kind of make me laugh. Not! Jeesh, it was months away! I had to get through the holidays first, and the rest of life!

But now it's starting to get real, and yes, I am really getting psyched. That's partly because in an effort to get up to speed I've been volunteering at the Hadley library, the Goodwin, a really nice, small-town library, for a few weeks now, and I also just started last week at the Forbes, the main branch in Northampton. Between the two I can start to see what my life might be like as a public librarian. Hadley is a small town, which the library struggles to serve on limited funds. It's a lovely building, and has fantastic services, given its size and budget.

The Forbes is a big library in a small town, with a gorgeous, large building, extensive city and area archives, as well as the usual services, which include DVDs and CDs these days, but also Kindles and ukeleles! Three each to loan. How cool is that! The Forbes is cataloged using the Cutter system, the precursor to the Library of Congress. Only four libraries in the country use this system, which was invented by the Forbes' first librarian, Charles Cutter. TMI, I'm sure, but it's kind of fascinating to me and will be useful to know when I start classes.

Much as I love libraries, I really have little idea what a librarian does, but I'm learning. And I've been helped and inspired over the years by so many different ones, at so many different libraries, that I am delighted to be joining their ranks. I don't think I've ever met a librarian I don't like. They all seem to be friendly and engaging and smart, smart, smart. If I can generalize at this early date, they love books, information, and their work. They love bringing people together with what they need to know, or don't even know that they need to know, maybe.

I really can't say much yet, it's too soon. When people ask what kind of librarian I want to be I say, employed. But I went to Simmons wanting to be a public librarian, and to be able to volunteer at the Forbes and the Goodwin is to catch a glimpse of what might be my future. I'm ready. Bring it on.

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