This is loosely an origin story, though I’ll branch off from there. You’ll note in a minute or less that my origin story couldn’t be more straightforward. Two years after college graduation, I was working in Admissions at the same school I had entered as a freshman ten years prior. I was in the process of figuring out what I wanted to do with my life with the earnestness only possible of someone in their early 20s. I knew I wanted to stay in education, and the school librarian seemed to be the best position in the school. You get to work with pretty much everyone, your days are always different, and the library is often one of the prettiest rooms in the building
When I told people I was going to earn my MLIS, I usually got one of two reactions.
- “That makes sense. You’ve always loved to read.” Family remembered me with every series book available to children of the 1980s and 90s: Bobbsey Twins, Tillerman cycle, Encyclopedia Brown, Sleepover Friends, Saddle Club, every iteration of Sweet Valley Kids/Twins/High and The Babysitters’ Club, Narnia, Cleary and Blume by the dozens, Fear Street…I could keep going. I recall a particular affinity for the stories of Barthe Declements and Paula Danziger. Remember Me to Harold Square and The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler inspired many a New York scavenger hunt on my part.
- “Huh? I didn’t realize they still had libraries. They’ll be obsolete soon.” Much has been written about library naysayers and why they are incorrect, so I’ll just say that libraries are as relevant today as they’ve ever been even if their form looks a bit different. To the first group, please tell me where I can find a job where I get paid to read all day. I’m in!
Fast forward ten years, and we are caught up to the present where I’ve learned that school librarian is pretty much my perfect profession.
Except “librarian” isn’t a profession I can drop off at the end of the day; it’s just my personality. Alyssa has taken the title of Thrifty Grocery Ninja, and I’d like to henceforth be known as an Organizational Wizard.
Some examples from the past week since we are visiting my husband’s family in Washington State where the summer weather is ideal.
- I have part of a dresser in the Washington house, and a few years ago I realized that I’d overpack because I didn’t remember what I kept here. 5 minutes making a list on Google Drive solved that issue. I’ve never had to worry about over- (or under-, though that’s seldom my problem) packing since.
- I went berry picking this morning with plans of canning this afternoon. For the past three years I’ve kept notes on the process and on who receives the jams afterwards. As with the previous example, it seems so simple and yet I bet I would have let the fruit-pectin mixture boil over if I hadn’t seen, “Fruit-pectin boils FAST and FROTHS. Stir and DON’T leave the pot.” (Sheepishly, I might remember a sticky strawberry stove from last July.)
- Last Friday, my husband’s grandmother brought out a cardboard box of family notes, newspaper clippings, and awards that went from 1923 to 2005. There were some file folders but not a lot of order. And a lot of news clippings! The family has lived in one town for generations and has been prominent in local business, politics, education, and charities. Know what I find super fun? Solving the date mystery by using clues in the article (or the article on the reverse), photos, similar stories in different papers, etc. What year was February 25 on a Thursday roughly in the 1950s? So much of local history still hasn’t been digitized, so while the Internet is a help, you can’t just type in text from articles. There was a visceral YES when I’d find a full paper that was a repeat of a clipping and the year matched my guess. An added benefit is that the materials are dated and sheet protected and organized in a three-inch three-ring binder. Now future generations can easily peruse while seeing the context in which something was written. And the grandmother think I’m an organizational wizard, so I have my first fan!
I realize it might just be me and an obsessive attention to detail but I’m hoping there are others. Are there times when your “library skills” have led to a smoother and more productive life outside the library? Happy midsummer!