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Living the Library Loca: Reflections on Leaving a Job

On Sunday I will quit my first job where I’m actually sad to leave.

I’m not going anywhere really. Just quitting because it’s time. And also because working full-time at the garage, plus Sundays at the library, add to that the Jade House and I’m just slowly wearing myself down. I’ve never really allowed myself the luxury to not be completely overloaded. This will be different.

Libraries (and in effect, librarians) have always held a warm fuzzy place in my heart. From the narrow, short shelves from my childhood memories of Central, to working as a volunteer at Bull Run, I have long considered librarians as the mighty guardians of the written word.

When I embarked on my quarter-life crisis I vaguely considered pursuing my master’s degree in library science in order to join this esteemed crowd. I nixed that idea though when I learned that my-kind-of-sort-of-not-really-little brother Ben said, “I don’t see Manda as a librarian.”

And in the way that only little brothers can be right, he was.

I started work at our community/campus library during my first fall semester at community college and suddenly I had a much better understanding of what it means to be a librarian. Never mind the fact that we don’t sell anything. Working at a library is a customer service job just like everything else. It’s an exchange of goods and services. Shiny, awesome, for FREE books all the time goods. But still, goods and services.

You still have people who will never be happy with how you do your job. And even when people are faced with fines that they should have known would eventually catch up to them, folks still manage to complain about the price.

I’ve enjoyed my time working there, but I honestly don’t have the long-term temperament to be a librarian. I forget to use my inside voice. I have fines just like everyone else. I babble incoherently at patrons when I get excited about something they’re checking out. All in all, I’m a very flawed librarian/clerk-person.

Before the lights go on

I do, however, have some all-time favorite moments:

  • Like helping Deaf patrons and at least being able to sign, “You’re welcome.”
  • Like finding a first-edition copy of Theodore Roosevelt’s “African Game Trails” in our stacks (and then being completely enraged when it goes missing).
  • Like being in the library before in opens.

Yep. It’s the simple things.

That’s why when I received this link to fabulous library tribute art, I geeked out a little bit. It seems Scottish library patrons also share my joy at the institution of free knowledge. Really that’s the reason behind this post, to share that link. And I guess to start putting words to what it means to close this chapter of my life.