Jan. 5th, 2017

deza: (Secret master librarians)
There I was. A newly-minted college graduate, with a degree that allowed me to be grammatically correct when I asked customers if they wanted a lap dance and no real prospects for a more stable job. I had gone for a few extra semesters on the hope of getting an Education degree -- only to find out I had been left off the student teaching roster and would have a 3 YEAR wait before I could even think of getting a job.

Stripping paid well - it was how I had paid for most of 6 years of college - but it wasn't what I wanted to be doing for years to come.

I had worked for a while in the University library. I was in the bindery department, collecting periodicals and preparing them to be bound into volumes for archival storage. Sometimes this was rather disturbing, like every time I had to go into the men's restroom to recover Sports Illustrated and Playboy and Epoca. Some of those issues were biohazards, and yes I wore gloves to handle them. I also had the luxury of flipping through back issues of Asimov's Science Fiction (where I made my first professional fiction sale) and the Journal for the American Society of Psychic Research. I loved it. I loved being surrounded by articles and stories and so much knowledge. I loved when people would ask for help and I could direct them where to go. I loved the quiet camaraderie of the bindery office when we were all carefully applying gold leaf call numbers to newly bound dissertations.

The obvious solution was to become a librarian.

Turns out, librarianship isn't an easy thing to get into. To move up from a student parapro to a full librarian, I needed a Master's degree in Information Science. Science? I wanted to work to with words, not numbers! But still, you have to meet the needs of the job you want, so off to grad school I went.

Eighteen months later I had my Master's degree - also paid for in large part by savings from my stripping days plus the stipend of being a student worker.

Twenty years later, I am still a librarian. Never did make it back to the University library that kicked it all off, but I have found talents I never knew I had. I've learned a lot that they probably should have taught us in grad school. I've dealt with armed and irritable patrons, fecal matter smeared on walls, teens that were not getting enough structure to know how to stay out of trouble, overflowing urinals, petty tyrant Board members, insect-infested returns and a live kitten put in the book drop. I've helped people recovering from natural disasters like Katrina and man-made disasters like the recent Gatlinburg fires. I've been the point of information for people diagnosed with devastating diseases, directed the newly-homeless into the shelter system, rescued abused children, helped people start businesses and buy their first homes.

I still love it.

LJ Idol, Season 10, Week 4
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