April 26, 2017

26 04 2017

Long day yesterday. I was hobbling around, my muscles protesting from all that physical labor the day before. Did my shift at PJL (Philbrick-James, the Deerfield Library) before shopping and running errands in the afternoon and going to my training session at DPL (Durham Public Library) in the evening. As tired as I was, I thoroughly enjoyed my tour of the new place of employment.

Oh, what a glorious institution an affluent, dedicated community can create! DPL is automated. I had to learn the software, which they were happy to show me. As I explored the wonders of reserving a book or searching overdues with a mere few clicks, I oo-ed and ah-ed. Another clerk came over, puzzled by my delight and fascination with an ordinary tool she used every day. The director, who was training me, grinned and said, “Her library isn’t automated.”

Do not get me wrong. PJL is a charming, old-fashioned, small-town library. Our historic building is unique. Our system works. We serve the public cheerfully and efficiently. They get personalized service, and can buy eggs at the desk. (I am not kidding. We keep them in the fridge downstairs. Pick up your Interlibrary loan request, and a dozen free-range, local, chicken eggs with a couple of duck eggs thrown in.) Since our rural town has a pitiful tax base, we have no money to do anything other than the bare minimum. Our four public access computers are supplied and maintained by volunteers. We still stamp the date due on check-out cards, and maintain a paper shelf list.

PJL is quirky, primitive, cramped and slightly shabby. But it’s ours and we love it.

I have no idea what changes we face when out beloved director of thirty some-odd years retires this fall. The shit-storm that blew up when I expressed my willingness to take over has totally soured me on the idea (the details are ugly, murky, fraught with small-town politics and vendettas, and to this day I don’t really understand what happened). So I am working on Plan B. Someone else can be the captain. I shall strive to be a reliable, indispensable, Number One. I expect the town and the library would be best served by someone providing some stability and continuity during the change in administration.

My work as a sub at DPL will give me skills that could prove useful to the new director, who will no doubt put automating PJL at the top of their to-do list. Good luck with that. But at least I will have a familiarity with an automated system, as well as experience in a real, modern town library. I was in cataloging at the UNH library years (eons) ago when DPL was housed in Dimond Library. I remember when I self-published the amateur version of Awake Chimera, DPL—which was by that time housed in less than ideal quarters in the Durham Market Place strip mall—welcomed me as an author and hosted my very first public reading. So I have a history of sorts with Durham Public, bless its heart. It’s a thrill to be working there in their spanky new building, with all its space, services, and grand accommodations, even if only a few hours a month (PJL is still my first priority).

Today it is raining, so I can’t go out and hurt myself more in the garden. Instead I’ll do some writing, and crunch my end of the month numbers. Although Jen’s medical issues have scuttled her earning power for the moment, both boys are making a good living, particularly Max, who already seems to have attracted some attention from management at Market Basket. So I am optimistic that we will be able to draw swords against the debt monster and eventually defeat it.

In fact, I am quite optimistic overall. Things are falling into place, albeit in a way I hadn’t anticipated. There’s only so much in life that you can control. I don’t advocate leaving one’s future entirely to chance; it is prudent to take some precautions and make wise plans. Just don’t be surprised when the best laid of them get plowed under by an indifferent universe. One must always be ready to adapt, change, seize unexpected opportunities and roll with unexpected punches.

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3 responses

26 04 2017
heretherebespiders

Just a thought passed on second hand – my best friend got really upset with a fully automated library not to long ago – juggling three kids and books for all of them and herself, she really couldn’t do the checkout without another pair of hands. She asked for help from the librarian and he waved her off, which was very upsetting for someone who is more used to the old style (and she is not even 40 yet). I wish she lived near your PJL!

26 04 2017
justinegraykin

Curse that librarian who waved her off! He has violated the code of librarians everywhere: Serving the patrons comes first! Even at DPL, with all its whizbang technology, my training included a couple of subtle reminders of that. A young boy came up with books to check out. I asked if he had his library card, and he said no. The director said, “You’ll hear a lot of that. Just enter his name manually.” I stumbled through the process, all the while apologizing to the young patron, joking with him, and thanking him for his patience. The director beamed with approval. The transaction concluded with everyone happy, because we didn’t forget the human element. Technology is our tool, not our master!

26 04 2017
heretherebespiders

Sorry for the typo, I need to go to sleep 🙂

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