Today I was trained in the ways of the library. I went out to a junior high and was shown the ropes by a woman that works in my office half-time and out at this library half-time. She is the “secondary media specialist” of our district, meaning she is overseeing how the libraries should be run in our district. The reason for this brief tutelage in the biblionic arts is this: I had to be taught the basics of circulation and given a login for all the junior high and high school libraries, because part of my job is soon going to include occasionally filling-in (substituting is such a dirty word in the schools) for some of the librarians when they are unable to fulfill their duties.
Her library was so awesome: bright and clean and filled with cool books that kids would actually want to read, as well as kids that actually want to read them. And she said today was a slow day. She actually had a manga collection. That’s right, mangas in a public school library. I kept comparing it to my old school libraries. My junior high didn’t seem to have any books published since the 70s, and pretty much no fiction. In my high school, it was the same deal, except that I found a couple of rare treasures that I greatly enjoyed (an ancient collection of Franz Kafka stories springs to mind), but that was about it, and the only reason I found any treasures was because I was by no means the average high school reader. School libraries were always lame, and kind of dreary. Not places even a bookish kid like me ever wanted to hang out or study. Anyway, you had to go to the public library or a bookstore to get anything good.
For those of you that have been following along out there in bloggie land, I believe I have mentioned before a tentative interest in becoming a junior high or high school librarian (I’m thinking junior high would be a little more fun). At any rate, seeing how good this library is got me quite excited about the possibility of running such a library, not a daft old place with orange-bound books that are only touched when the yearly inventory is done. Now, this library has something extra going for it that most of the others don’t have: it is in a school that is less than a decade old, versus most of the schools, which have libraries 30-100 years old. So at this model library, none of the books are very old and the space is more appealing because they’ve learned to build schools much more pleasantly in the past decade or so. So it would take a lot of work to get some of the other school libraries to the point that this one is, if it is even possible. I’ve been on the fence about this for a long time, but right now I’m feeling quite interested in pursuing studies in this direction. I need to talk to my boss about it tomorrow, to see if he thinks it is a good idea for me to pursue it (because if he doesn’t there’s not much point to it). He did advocate it to me once when I very first started working in the department, which may be a good sign. Of course, he also told me I would be working a lot in the libraries this year, which I had thought would give me a chance to have a real taste and decide if I like it or not, but I’ve barely been in libraries at all, and the few times I have been in them I mostly did manual labor (Have I mentioned my days at Granger High spent entirely wheeling cart after cart of old magazines out across the speed-bump-filled parking lot to the dumpster, or the day I had to inventory by serial number all of these quality items at Kearns High, just so they could be properly surplussed and then trashed?) At any rate, wish me luck.