From Buffalo to Albany

Mr. Byzantium’s Shores, the guy in the overalls from Buffalo, was generous enough to give, not only me, but a bunch o’ folks five questions. Here they are. I did consider answering with two or three words, but since he seemed to work so hard… Still, in the ALT sections, I’ll give the terse answer.

1. So what’s it like living in Albany and reading other bloggers like myself who gripe about “the folks in Albany”?

See, “Albany” is two things, really: the dysfunctional state government, and the dysfunctional local government. Those of you not from NYS might not be aware of the tiff between Gov. Spitzer and State Senate Majority Leader Bruno; o, that I were one of them. However we’ve come to this place where we’ve long had a difficult time passing a budget on time (though the last one was, shockingly, only a half day late), where the Democratic Assembly and the Republican Senate can pass all the one-house bills they want, because they are inconsequential. The only stuff that DOES get passed is “feel good” stuff.

Now, the city of Albany is a somewhat different animal. For decades, this town was run by a Democratic machine that the original Mayor Daley of Chicago would have envied. We had one mayor, Erastus Corning, for 41 years, until his death in 1983. The progressives have slogged against the empire, even as the current mayor, Jerry Jennings, who ran as a reformer back in 1993, has become more autocratic, with a weak (and by that, I mean structurally) city council. There was a move for reforming the charter that had popular support, yet, through what I can only call chicanery, failed to make it to the ballot.

All of that said, I like Albany. It’s the right-sized town for me. It has some decent mass transport – could be better, but I’ve experienced worse; it has an educated population, due in part to the colleges here and nearby; and it has so much potential to be a lot more.

ALT- It sucks.

2. What made you choose librarianship as a career?

Nothing better to do. This is largely true. I had quit my job at Blue Cross, which I HATED, HATED, HATED, and my friends Jendy, Judy, and Broome, two librarians and a lawyer, all nagged me to go to school. Actually I wrote about this in my second post ever in this blog. It does fit me.

ALT- Boredom.

3. To what extent do you want to slap people upside the head when they suggest that in the day and age of the Internet, public libraries are dispensable luxuries?

I’m a pacifist in action, but I drop 1500-pound boulders on people’s heads mentally when I hear that. In fact, Albany had a vote on funding libraries in February, and some ying-yang said essentially that. I didn’t bother to find his letter, but here’s one response of many; BTW, the budget passed.

ALT- Big time.

4. What’s the strangest request you’ve ever had to field from a library patron (to the extent that you can write about it)?

You know, we get this question all the time, and we never have a ready response. Back in 1993, it was emu and alpaca ranches, but after a few of them, well, maybe they’re not so strange. I suppose what *I* find weird are those requests where somebody doesn’t have a clue what they want, but just want to make lots of money. I find these peculiar, because if you’re going to work 60, 80 hours a week on something, you damn well better love it.

ALT- They’re ALL weird.

5. You’re offered a paid vacation that is to last as long as it takes you to read five books that you’ve always wanted to read but never had the time. What are the books?

I’m going to pick books on the shelves I can see right now; otherwise, I’ll agonize over this.
The Bible, the New Revised Standard Version – I’ve read the King James and the RSV once each.
Personal History by Katherine Graham. She’s interested me at least since Watergate.
Mayor Corning: Albany Icon, Albany Enigma by Paul Grondahl. I’ve read parts of it, but not all the way through. There’s a scene in the book I heard Paul read that I was present at.
The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language by John McWhorter
The Black New Yorkers: the Schomburg Illustrated History

ALT- YOU choose.

Now, per the social contract, here’s where YOU come in. If you hast a blog, I am supposed to come up with five tailor-made questions for you. If you want me to delve into your heart and soul, let me know by leaving your request in the comments box. Jaq, am I to assume that you want five questions from me?


Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

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