Public v. Academic Libraries: Smackdown

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Last night’s bedtime conversation was typical.

“Girls! Bedtime!”

Bub looked at me.

“Kids! I mean kids, not girls! You, too, Bub! It’s bedtime!”

Then I climbed into bed, set the alarm for 4.5 hours later (I’ve GOT to start going to bed earlier), turned the lights out, and waited.

No one came.

“Kids!” I tried again, in what I hoped was an inviting, sing-song voice. “Bedtime!”


“Time to snuggle!”

More nothing.

I started with the threats. “Kitties who don’t want to snuggle have no place in THIS household.”


“You’re going back to the pound first thing tomorrow, every one of you.”

No cats.

“This is the entire reason why single women get cats. You all understand that, right?”

Apparently they did not understand this. I fell asleep alone, but then reneged on my threat to take them back to the pound in the morning, because Bub was sprawled atop me, purring and being all cuddly. You have to understand that this is a large animal. This is a significant mass of cat to have conked out on one’s tummy. It is a warm, comforting, lovely sensation, and I was half tempted to call in Cat to work. (“Can’t come in. Cat cuddle’s got me down.”)

But go to work I did. There was an extra incentive today, a tour of the local academic library. I’m glad I work in a public library, but visiting this college made me wistful for Library of Congress. I appreciate that LC is impractical for a public library—it’d be a nightmare to find the fiction—but I’ll never be a Dewey convert.

Most of us public librarians privately suspect that academics have the easier jobs. Academic librarians only need to worry about faculty, staff, and students, not the great mass of humanity. These folks have a more specialized set of needs; they are, by definition, educated; and on the whole they are far more savvy about the internet. Based on my limited experience in academic libraries, I’d say it’s easier to serve academic patrons than the glorious public at large.

“But we have to worry about publishing,” protest the academic librarians. “And committees and politics.”

Bugger that. We have committees and politics, too, and as for publishing… I wrote two articles this week, thank you very much, and both were accepted, thank you very much again. (And thank you, Readers Advisor Online and Virginia Libraries.) I’ll be blogging a bunch of sessions at ALA, I write bi-monthly columns for NoveList, and I’m writng a library science book. I don’t have to do any of this, mind you. I do because I enjoy the professional development. Don’t talk to me about publish or perish.

After the tour, I took Bookish Jet out to lunch, as tomorrow is her birthday. We both had the tomato soup (scrumptious with some cheese sprinkled on it) and the salad bar (modest, but very tasty). We are both trying to become svelte. Mexican food is not the most direct path to svelteness, we have reluctantly concluded, so salads are becoming a mainstay for us after yoga class.

Speaking of yoga, did I mention the marvelous summer pass I purchased? For $130, I get to attend all the yoga classes I want between now and the end of August. It is heavenly.

Prior to discovering yoga, there was absolutely no physical exercise I enjoyed, save hiking (difficult, with no mountains around here) and swimming (impossible, considering my refusal to be seen in a swimsuit. I’d rather skinny dip than put on lycra to accentuate my tummy. Most swimming pools frown on naked swimming, alas. Some people are so narrow-minded.) I always got testy when people talked about how much they loved a particular exercise. I still get testy, now that you mention it.

So I won’t go into detail about how much I love yoga. Besides, there’s no way I can describe the awesome pose I learned the other night. Nor can I remember the Sanskrit word for the pose, so you’re safe. (But it’s awesome.)

Gonna spend this evening indulging in pleasure reading. Tomorrow will start with yoga, and then I’m going to get serious about the book. And then I’m going to have to start planning for ALA.

More responsible librarians would perhaps first consider what sessions to attend at ALA. Bully for them. I, for one, need to maintain the reputation of Jessica Kennedy-Rockefeller. Firstly: what color hair should I have? Now that Loreal’s Copper Blast has mostly faded, I am primed to apply a new color. Should I bleach it out to a spunky blonde? Should I switch back to my perennial favorite, bluish-black? Should I go with my librarian shocker, Chilled Plum?

Decisions, decisions.

Then I need to honestly evaluate whether I’ve been eating enough salads to squeeze into the hot pink pants. Feasible idea, or just pathetic?. Or how about my polka dot dress? It has to be worn with a strapless bra; is it delusional for a woman of my bearing to attempt it? Can I perhaps disguise matters with the shawl I stole from Mom a few years ago?

And academic librarians I have an easy job. Hrmph!

3 responses »

  1. <sniff> Academic Librarians NEVER have to worry about what they are wearing. It’s long shapeless skirts topped with beige cardigans and either crocs or birkenstocks or ecos. Those shapeless,Eurpoean shoes that are comfortable, yet positively SCREAM "I could read this in Hungarian. If I felt like it." They aalso do not have NEARLY the fun Public Librarians have at conference. We treat ALA as if it’s a four day baccanal, Spring Break for librarians, if you will. Academic Librarians behave as if they’re taking tea with Oxford dons. For them it’s a weekend graduate retreat cum seminar on Joyce’s Ulysses and the myriad way to catalog such. It’s not important to them if the hair is pink or the ‘dots are suitable for dinner with Dunc. As long as they get their damn green tea and biscottis every day at 4, all’s right in their insular ivory world.We have street cred. They just got, well, credentials.

  2. Hey, thanks for mentioning my birthday! I’ll be going to my first ALA this week. A bacchanal, eh Marian? Does that mean I should chuck this schedule that I made up with cataloging sessions from morning til dusk? (I think the cataloging sessions would be more fun, honestly. What could be funner than learning and talking about cataloging books and things?)

  3. Bookish Jet,You are deluded. To whom have you been speaking about ALA? Not Les. Les, please bring Jet up to speed on our conference behavior. Jet, NOTHING will be more fun than tearing it up at the French Embassy. Seriously. We are going to have such a good time. Can’t wait to meet you. NO crocs!


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