Once a librarian…

It’s been almost 5 years since I worked in a library. I left to go and have a baby, thinking I would return to it when my little one started school. We are 8 days away from her first day  in Prep but I think I’m still a way off from returning to library work. Actually, going on maternity leave was not the last time I was involved in libraries. I did do some library-related work in the years that followed. I was a sessional marker. I read, marked, critiqued the assignments of post-graduate library students seeking to specialise in medical librarianship. I have also had the odd ad hoc library question from friends (former clients) who preferred to ask me than the person who had stepped into my job.

In addition to that, almost all of my friends are librarians, library technicians or library assistants. I’m even married to one…and many of his friends are also library folk!

So, while I haven’t worked for almost 5 years in a library, I’m by no means out of the loop. I’m still very interested in the industry and I still have thoughts to be thunk about library stuff.

One of my friends, a colleague of my husband, shared an article on Facebook entitled “7 statements library professionals should rethink in 2019” which was written by a couple of moving/shaking types (one of whom I’ve crossed paths with many times). I really enjoyed the article. It’s always great to get my brain into library-mode again but there was something that didn’t really sit well with me and I just had to reply to the post. Before I knew it, I was knee-deep into an essay! So I decided to spare my friend the diatribe and share it all here as a blog post instead!! (Aren’t you lucky?!)

As a (former) special and academic librarian, this article is really targeted at public libraries. I guess that was implied by the two public librarian authors.  I can see value in almost all of it. However, Jane Cowell’s point about revising Dewey is a little off, IMHO. (Not the bit about the racism. She’s absolutely right about that.) She says non-fiction is a best seller at bookstores but under-performs in [public] libraries. This isn’t a level playing field. When a person buys a non-fiction book it’s often because they want a reference book in their house (think dictionary, atlas, thesaurus). These are usually big, one-off purchases. You don’t want to go to a library to borrow one of these types of books. The other reason non-fiction sells off the shelves is because students need textbooks…primary, secondary, tertiary. You need the book for a semester, a year or a career! You don’t want to have to return it in a few weeks.

I’d buy non-fic to keep but borrow fiction. Once I’ve read a novel I move on to the next one. I know how it ends. Why waste money on buying a book I’ll read once. Public libraries provide a seemingly endless supply of zero-cost (to the user), high turnover fodder for avid readers.

In these days of Marie Kondo, minimalism, sustainability and a trend towards conscious and conscientious purchasing, the public library is perfectly placed. Public libraries are the Airbnb of books, the Uber of information. They have mastered the art of reduce, reuse, recycle centuries before it was fashionable!

Let the bookshops sell the books you want for a lifetime. Those non-fiction books whose passages we want to highlight or underline and go back to again and again.  Libraries don’t need to compete with that.

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As the Twelve Days of Christmas have been celebrated and blogs have been blogged, it’s time to sum up what I’ve learned and celebrate the Epiphany.

I like to use this day to think about what is going on in my life. It’s a kind of a day to take stock in the same way that most people on New Years’ Day look back on the year that was and their plans for the year ahead.

It’s kind of interesting to look back at the Epiphanies I have had since I started the #blog12daysxmas challenge way back when.

2011 (this one contains a pretty reasonable explanation of what it means)

I didn’t do #blog12daysxmas last year. I wrote a single post instead: Where’s my partridge? I didn’t actually manage to even keep up with the “My Musical 2018” challenge I set for myself there.

That kinda leads me to my epiphany for this year.

I, like many people, set challenges and goals for myself to achieve. And, boy, is it great when they are met or exceeded! But, man, it’s dreadful when they’re not.

I have learned that goal-setting is the first step in setting up a failure. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying not to try and do things. I’m saying that life has a way of letting us know that we aren’t always in control…and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“Control freak”. I hate that expression. I never thought I was one but I’ve come to recognise that I probably was. I’m actually being a little hopeful in using past tense there. I don’t want to be a control freak. I want to be a person who is spontaneous and carefree. I’m not but I want to be.

I guess if I had a goal for this year it would be to just be happy with where I’m at. Setting goals and milestones isn’t working for me. I fail to meet them and then I beat myself up for being a failure. How many of us could say the same? Honestly? How much of this is familiar: I’m going to lose 10kg this year; This is the year I find a man; I’m going to get a promotion by the end of July…and I could go on.

This is the year I’m going to just live. This is the year I’m going to be happy with who I am. This is the year I let go.


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12th Day of Christmas

On the twelfth day of Christmas I did little more than rest.

It’s been an odd week. I think I’m still recovering from overdoing it on Thursday.

Today was another one of those days when half my body was on fire and my face was drooping. The only thing to be done in this situation is to rest…which I did.

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11th Day of Christmas

On the 11th day of Christmas I did very little at all. I rested. The previous day was evidently more draining than I’d realised.

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10th Day of Christmas

On the tenth day of Christmas I had an old friend visit me for lunch. We chatted for ages and I was reminded of my library days. It was lovely to reminisce. I often miss working in libraries. It will always have a special place in my heart and I may return to working in that capacity again but I think that may be a way off still.

After the visit, Mum and I went shopping for some essentials. It was nice to go out and see the world for a bit. I find shopping bittersweet. I’ve always enjoyed looking at the shops and picking up bargains where I may. These days, I’m not able to take the sensory overload of bright lights, crowds and constant sound. I’m also not able to afford anything but the bare essentials. I don’t mind living frugally, I have done so for most of my life. A bit more wiggle room in the budget would be nice, though.

I had a lovely encounter with a salesperson in my favourite shop. I said I used to often shop there but having a stroke and losing my job curtailed that. She offered some really helpful advice about clothing choices to suit my changing body shape, my disability and for the likelihood of me being seated in either a wheelchair or mobility scooter when I’m out of the house. I was really impressed with her customer service and that she went the extra mile to treat me with respect and dignity in my current situation even though she knew I wasn’t making a purchase today. She just took me as I was and accepted me. Everyone has the right to feel beautiful no matter what their life circumstances might be. I left there feeling really uplifted.

Mum picked up Snugglepot who was full of ideas and opinions about how the evening should progress. Her ideas and mine didn’t exactly line up which lead to some interesting conversations.

All-in-all, I’ve had a pretty exhausting day. That said, it’s also been a very rewarding day. I had moments of nostalgia and humour which adds colour to a life that has been a little too pastel of late.

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9th Day of Christmas

On the ninth day of Christmas I did a whole lot of stuff I didn’t really plan to do. Houseworky type stuff that I’m normally either not physically or mentally capable to deal with. As it happens, I had wanted to rest because of a persistent headache and visual disturbance but I just couldn’t get comfortable. So I took on a load of little jobs.

One of these jobs was to count cards. Kinda. I have a double deck of cards which recently fell out of my games cupboard and was picked up and put back in a hurry. The pack is organised so that it is possible to take out a single deck if needed.

Given how scattered the cards were when they fell, I wondered if things went back correctly and I set about checking that today.

I just took out the first “deck”. Here is a summary of what it contained:
Jokers = 1 red
Spades = A, 3, 3, 6, 9, 9, 10, 10, J, J, Q, Q, K.
Hearts = A, 3, 4, 7, 7, J, J, K.
Clubs = A, A, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 8, 9, 9, J, K.
Diamonds = A, 2, 3, 3, 4, 5, 5, 6, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, K.

I’m still doing this task but wanted to share this funny part of my day. I promise not to play cards with anyone until I have sorted this out!

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8th Day of Christmas

On the eighth day of Christmas I didn’t do very much at all. We went out for another Pokescoot along the waterfront this afternoon. I had spent a large portion of the day lying in bed. I experienced a strange headache shortly followed by some facial droop which resolved after a few hours. I’m not really sure what happened but I have my suspicions.

I never know if I should be going to the hospital with these symptoms. The last time I went in suffering what might have been a TIA I was told I had done the right thing. Despite this, I still felt like I was wasting everybody’s time. It’s almost impossible to tell at this point in my stroke journey whether I’ve had a bad day or a TIA.

Normally, blog posts on New Year’s Day are generally about resolutions or plans for the year ahead. I don’t really have any. I just want to take each day on its own merits and see what I can do with that day. I want to feel well. I want to feel useful. I want the days of my life to have meaning.

Since the middle of October I have been using an old accounting book with 13 columns to track whether I have achieved certain criteria in my day. The columns include things like whether I have taken my morning and evening tablets, had a shower, eaten meals, gone outside, etc. I also record my bedtime and some general notes about the day. But the most important column that I have included is to achieve one meaningful task. It is all too tempting to sit in front of the television and binge watch anything and everything. Or to lie in my bed like a lump (or a “Lurleen Lumpkin”, as we say in our house) and do nothing with my life. Having a prompt like a column in a book reminds me to hold myself to account.

So, that is my New Year’s resolution. Do one meaningful thing each day.

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