Being a Librarian 20 years ago... today
posted March 15, 2014 1:09 PM by Maggie Davidov
Today I worked in a library system 20 years ago. Ok, that's a lie. I don't wake up every day, hop in my time machine and travel back to the simpler age of the card catalog. Though, if I did have a time machine I would choose a much simpler time with cooler clothes and become friends with Billy Shagspar (see Bill Bryson's biography of a certain Elizabethan playwright). No, today my colleagues and I were mostly immobilized by the World Wide Web (the birthday present it re-gifted to us). Our circulation program, Millennium, just decided not to work. We began running around like chickens with our heads cut off for a good fifteen minutes, calling every supervisor under the sun to no avail. What could be done? Without computers how do we run the library?
Technology is not the maker and breaker of libraries these days, although it seems like it. If it were the only thing holding a library together then there would be very little point to getting an MLS degree. The cooler heads of librarians do prevail over the fickle lords of the technology dance, though I had no idea in my moment of crisis. Librarians think ahead. They have contingency plan after contingency plan in place for just such a moment. They're like four star generals going into battle to serve the patrons to whom they are dedicated. What was in place for me after I talked to the 3rd on-call supervisor was the following: write down the information on a spreadsheet (provided) for all of the books being checked out. That was all: write it down, get all of their information and call the people who fix Millennium.
I don't want to admit that this is why I should strive to pay more attention to the history portions of my classes here at Simmons. I probably can't admit to myself that there is indeed a great deal to learn from our collective past. Having worked in a library from the past today though I can see why it's useful and why I will tell you that I'm on my way to talk to the oldest librarian I can find and pick his or her brain ASAP. Card catalogs: not so ridiculous now.