19 October 2012

Libraries Are Disappearing?

I had an interesting conversation last week that reinforced in my mind the stereotypes people have about libraries and librarians. I was casually talking with a new acquaintance about various Minnesota-related things and the inevitable, 'What do you do?' question came up. I mentioned that I am a librarian and currently looking for a job. I honestly can't remember exactly how the conversation went but the main thing I remember him saying is something along the lines of:

Well, we all know how libraries are going away.

Clearly he hadn't been to aforementioned local public library. Every book I wanted to check out recently was already checked out. I am now a master at making requests.

At any rate, I didn't actually have time to address this [practically] stranger's comment. I've made that mistake in the past, quickly correcting people for their stereotypes of libraries and librarians. Probably not the best way to make new friends, which [whom?] I'm pretty desperate for these days. So, I kept my mouth shut at the time.

But once again, I was so surprised by such an off-hand comment. I don't know why these comments continue to surprise me. Or rub me the wrong way. You'd think by now I would just accept that people think libraries are disappearing and librarians only like to read. But I just can't.

Because the very reasons I believe libraries and librarians are not disappearing are the very reasons I get excited about libraries:

  • communities
  • information
  • connections
  • people

These things might not be what most people think of when they think of libraries. But we librarians know the truth. ;-) A library is more than a house of books. At the very least that's only part of the description.

And the main things I continue to learn from these types of conversations: patience toward others and not to make assumptions. I won't make assumptions about your career, if you don't make assumptions about mine. Deal?


  1. Hi Rachel -

    I just wanted to encourage you while you're looking for work in Minnesota. That's where I was eight years ago, only with just a bachelor's degree in English. I was incredibly lonely, despite the fact that I was finally living with the man of my dreams. He was busy making friends at law school, and I was sending out resume after resume into a seemingly black hole. Ugh!

    My husband was the one who finally told me, "Laura, what you need is some girlfriends." So true. I was expecting him to meet all my emotionally and social needs. Impossible, even for my knight in shining armor.

    My experience was that the "Minnesota Nice" factor played out this way. People would be happy to talk with you in passing, but not quick to invite you into their lives. Why? Because they already had friends, thank you very much. Sad:( When I finally did find a job, it was a lonely one. I worked as an assistant to an attorney. His office was in the basement of a building.

    God showed me much about Himself and myself during that time. I am so thankful for our Minnesota Church (Bethlehem Baptist) and the ministry of small groups, which provided me with my very first friends in that state, all of which I still call friends today.

    Praying for you, sweet sister!

  2. Dear Rachel,
    I am a librarian in a small town of Florida. It is kind of funny how before moving here, I felt the same way. I loved to read but I had a kindle and Starbucks was way more accessible for studying and reading, and yet moving to this town I realize how vital the library system is. It isn't only for books and awful out of date movies that are scratched up (which I thought). It is almost the heartbeat of our community. We have information on every and any activities or events going on... we keep books and movies stocked and hold so many workshops and book clubs. I never thought that I would fall in love with my job like I have here. I hope that things are better now, I know what it is like to be uprooted and untransitioned. I never expected to find solace in a place I hated all growing up. Just know, you, my friend, are in my prayers.