Advocacy & Activism

Save Our Librar*

{This is from a post on my personal blog but felt that it may apply here as well.  A small disclaimer – I’m now actually working in a corporate library despite my hopes of working a public one.  However, I believe that the involvement and advocacy that I discuss really applies to anyone in the field, no matter where they work. }

A year ago I left my job in banking to go back to school to be a librarian. Wow. It’s been quite a journey. And as soon as I think I’m getting the hang of the whole school thing I find that something knocks me off my perch and I find myself questioning if I’ve really made the right decision.

In my quest to become more a part of the profession I’ve gotten fairly involved in student organizations on campus. I do not entirely regret this but I had forgotten how thankless some of these activities can be at times. However, I think it has been a really good lesson in learning how to work with people and learning how to not say “yes” to everything, which I have a tendency to do. The really wonderful thing that came out of getting more involved on campus was being able to help, a bit, with what is going on with the Boston Public Library and its branches. There are 22 branches of the BPL and 4 of them are currently up for closure along with almost 100 job losses. As a future librarian, and hopefully a future public librarian, this was a fight that I felt absolutely compelled to become a part of, even though I don’t actually use the BPL (the Brookline libraries are part of a different system). A group called, People of Boston, was created by a library user to help get people active in the cause.
While I obviously am very concerned about the possible closures and the loss of jobs, for me, selfishly, it has just been a really wonderful way to meet more like-minded people in school and in the library community. That has been great. It is really different to be in a field where there are more people who think like me and have the same values then in my previous career. And that is a rather freeing feeling. I feel as though I can finally be myself a bit more which is pretty wonderful to feel at 30!

But this is all part of why I left my job. I was sick of feeling like what I did everyday had no meaning, that I wasn’t providing anything to the world or to my community, that I wasn’t helping people. And I definitely realize that those are all fairly idealistic goals and that they can be very thankless tasks (as evidenced by the amazing work my sister does as a Kindergarten teacher that gets unnoticed and unthanked on a regular basis!). And although I’ve been back working in the corporate world to get some money and experience, I still in my heart of hearts want to work in a public library one day. I’m really starting to feel like I’d like to be a reference librarian. I want to be able to help people and find answers to their questions or direct them towards the resources they need to answer those questions themselves. And getting involved with the BPL has made me remember that. I know that jobs are scarce and that I may not find what I’m looking for right when I finish this program. But I hope I never lose that goal because I think it’s a good one and one that will lead me a bit to find what I’m looking for…or at least a start….

Besides what I want, there is also the issue at hand here of what is happening to libraries all over the country. Just when they are being needed the most to help people find jobs, fill out unemployment, or just offer a reprise from the world, they are being cut and closed. I don’t want to see that happen. And so even though it’s a thankless task I’ll continue to fight with my fellow students to make sure that the library, a free and open door to information and democracy, does not get closed to those who really need it.

I just hope I can do all that and still get a paycheck to pay off my loans:)


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