Librarian-ing without a Library

I’m currently an on-call Librarian for both a public system and an academic library. Beyond the feeling that you have no permanent space and that you’re living out of a work bag, I’m still preparing for a research publication in September and two conference presentations in October. So, now the biggest challenge is this – I’m working like a patron and I get to experience life as one. I’ve used libraries most of my life, but the vast majority of my adult life, I’ve used it as an employee. I’ve found countless books, ebooks, and audiobooks through the libraries in which I work as well as the systems around my home (I’m pretty darn sure I have a public library card to 5 different systems!), but this is different.  I’ve never used the public library for research purposes. I’m mostly set on research for my paper, but come time to prep for one of the presentations, I’m going to need a lot more info and I’m a little nervous about that.

I’ve already run into the challenge of needing an article that I couldn’t find it in the public system (this was mostly due to me not knowing the right search terms bc I couldn’t remember the title!). Long story short, I emailed a past colleague and, true to form, as soon as I did, I found the article… :facepalm:

Now, I must admit that my local library’s study rooms are very nice, but there’s a 2 hour limit. Trust me when I say that that’s not enough time when you’re working on a research paper for the first time in 2.5 months. It took me nearly an hour just to get going! Let’s not even talk about hauling around a laptop, a few books, quite a few articles, and of course, provisions (Coke and Cheezits are excellent writing food). I was really starting to wish I could just write at home, but that’s never a good idea. Between a screaming toddler, dishes that need to be done, the absence of a desk, and two dogs that are so codependent, you step on them at every turn (they’re 65 and 85 lbs, so that’s no small feat), there is absolutely no way that I can be productive there.

Beyond trying to work on this paper at the library, I’ve been trying to, ya know, actually use it. I’ve spent the better half of my career trying to get people to attend programs and events, so I figured I should actually put my money where my mouth is and go myself. My family attended the first of Anythink’s 2017 Backyard Concert Series. It was quite fun! You can’t really argue with BBQ, beer, and live music at a free venue. The band wasn’t bad, the food was good, and my kid had a blast wandering around and getting in people’s way. As far as finding books go, Anythink doesn’t use a traditional classification system and it can be a real pain. I don’t typically use them bc I’m using whatever library I’m actively working at! With subbing, I can’t really do that bc I never really know when I’ll be at a location. So, alas, I have to check things out like the public and I don’t like it, haha.

I was never one who wanted to be a stay-at-home mom and I think those who do should wear capes so I can salute them as I see them. Learning how to live life as a part-time SAH Mom and a part-time working professional is a whole other animal. I’ve recognized just how layered we can be as human beings and that I have to divorce certain parts of myself or I go crazy. It’s been really fun to be able to get up a little later and decide to go the park or the zoo or storytime or whatever with this rambunctious, tiny tornado, but having such an unscheduled life has really taken a toll on this INFJ. I like my days to have routine. I don’t need work itself to have routine, but I do miss knowing that certain days of the week, I get up and go to work, certain days are weekends, certain times are this or that, etc., etc. I’m having to adjust and live life day to day and it’s stressful.

For every part of life, there is a season. While being an on-call professional is tough on my personality, it is really enjoyable and I get to change hats often. At the college, I do it all. Literally. I’m the only one there when I work! At the public library, I’m what they call the Librarian on Duty, which means I get called on for research and in-depth reference questions, troubleshooting tech problems and teaching patrons computer software, helping crowd control when things get really busy, roving and helping patrons on the spot, and overseeing the opening or closing of the branch. These libraries look, feel, and act very different and it’s a great experience to work for both at the same time!

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