So my friend Clay (of reference desk fame) and I have just gotten out of our dance class, and we are talking about books. A woman overhears us and starts talking about a book she is reading on the subject of Jack the Ripper.
“What was that book?” she asks, “The one they made a movie out of?”
At this point I should pause and remind you that neither of us were in any way identifiable as librarians, nor were we at work, where we might have had a contractual obligation to answer this woman’s question. Yet answer it we did, with alacrity.
We pipe up, “Oh! you must mean the graphic novel From Hell by Alan Moore,” and our cover is blown. We have been exposed as professional know-it-alls. Any chance we might have had to pose as members of another, sexier profession has been lost.
We couldn’t just say “huh” like normal people. Nope, had to jump in there with the full bibliographic citation.
This is how librarians talk when they think no one’s looking. The following excerpts are from actual email conversations:
Me: Good news! The ALA now has a Library Worker’s Day! ALA loves library assistants! What I like most about this day is how close the phrase ‘library worker’ is to ‘sex worker.’ “Hi, I’m Erica and I’m a library worker! I started out as a library dancer, but now I just do some phone reference and a few library tricks on the side.”
My Librarian Friend: Some day I will be Madam at a whole Library of Ill Repute. Really naughty boys will be sent to Technical Services!!!
Me: Good news! The ALA now has a Library Worker’s Day! ALA loves paraprofessionals!
My Other Librarian Friend: Show me the money.
First of all, and lets just get this out of the way: a full-time job is actually a pretty shoddy reward for 2.5 years of graduate school stress. Yes, I’m grateful and all, glad to be here, nice to meet ya, etc. but frankly, I think I was looking for something along the lines of “congratulations on your degree, here’s your houseboat, now get out of here you scamp.”
I suppose having a stable schedule and slightly-more-realistic paychecks is reward enough, but lately I’ve had to face what seems to happen any time you put enormous effort into something. Which is, a rather slow transition into something different that requires enormous effort. Like learning not to scream when someone suggests you attend the Metadata Working Group Meeting.