Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Librarian: Quest for the Degree

Today two undergraduates told me they had never come into the library before because they were "afraid of it."

Don't be afraid of the library!" I exclaimed. They just stared at me with big googly eyes, shaking their heads. "It's so big!" one of them whispered.

I don't think I was very successful at assuaging their fears. I just couldn't relate. I loved the library as an undergraduate; I would hang out there for fun. I would randomly search the OPAC, which back then was called LISA or maybe ALIS, looking up forbidden terms like "drugs" and "magic," just to see what I would get. (What I got was a book on the shamanistic use of the psilocybe mexicana mushroom in Central America, which I used to write a paper for Botany class.) I would look up notorious books like Mein Kampf and Tropic of Cancer, and then go look at them on the shelves, just to see them. I browsed the shelves on history, science and religion, marvelling at the wealth of books that had never been available to me before -- serious books, rare books -- grown-up books.

And yet if was almost ten years after I graduated that I finally ended up in a library, and found work I loved to do. In retrospect, maybe I should have realized my destiny sooner.

I daresay those undergraduates aren't going to grow up to become librarians. Poor things.

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