O is for occupation: librarian, NY SBDC

It was a radical innovation when the discs were on a LAN

October 19 marks the 25th anniversary of when I became a working librarian, all, as it turned out, at the Research Network of the New York Small Business Development Center.

Now it’s not the first job I ever had in a library. I spent seven months as a page at the Binghamton, now Broome County (NY), Public Library back when I was in high school. I used to help people use the microfilm machines, find and then refile the magazines in the closed stacks, and check the shelves to make sure the books were in Dewey Decimal System order.

After 8.5 years at the comic book store FantaCo and a dreadful year at an insurance company, I was nagged by two librarians and a lawyer, all friends of mine, to go to library school. I was resistant to return to graduate school, having suffered a disastrous experience a decade earlier.

But this time, I survived, and even thrived in grad school. I worked in the dean’s office and one of my tasks was to calculate the demographics of the students. I discovered that I was, at that time, the average age of a student at UAlbany’s School of Information Science and Policy. There were lots of returning students.

The task has always been to provide reference to remote SBDC counselors who were meeting with their would-be entrepreneurs and active businesspersons, Still, the job of this librarian has changed a lot over the quarter century. We used to send packets of information via the US Mail or UPS.

My first phone was a shared line with the fax machine. When it would ring, I was never sure when it rang if I would pick it up and hear a wall of aural pain.

In the days before the wide use of the Internet, we had a number of CD-ROMs to use, and we had to take turns using them. It was a radical innovation when the discs were on a LAN (local area network) so that two or three librarians could use ReferenceUSA at the same time.

The World wide web, of course, changed our reference ability, but it was a gradual evolution early on. We wanted to be able to deliver data via email. Now EVERYONE has it, but in the 1990s, it was hardly a universal service, even at the colleges and universities where our SBDCs were housed.

When email became more universally available, sometimes the data packet was so big that it would bounce. Now, there’s a location on a closed website where counselors can pick up the information.

Being a librarian has changed a lot in the past two and a half decades, but finding the information remains the goal.

For ABC Wednesday

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.

11 thoughts on “O is for occupation: librarian, NY SBDC”

  1. A lovely occupation. I volunteered at the local high school for a few years, and then was hired as a library clerk. Just before I retired we put the whole collection online, – and then I went and played golf and fished and camped and had a great retirement.

  2. Our new library opened in May. It took a long time to get the funding and approval to take out loans, but now it is done. I guess making changes like the location of the library in a small town can be controversial. But everyone agreed the old location underneath city hall was too small for the collection, and very little space for patrons to enjoy their library experience. The new building was a remodeled large business establishment. It is open and airy with modern furniture. That seems to be the main complaint. It doesn’t have that intimate feeling of the old place. – Margy

  3. Librarians are cool. Always were, always will be in my book. I was head student librarian when I was in 8th grade. Loved that job. If writing hadn’t taken off for me, I might be a librarian today.

  4. I remember the CD_Roms. In college I always wanted to work in the library. Only my main motive was to be in the midst of things I love. I ended up working in the dental clinic.

  5. We had one IBM computer (thats how long ago it was) which had its own desk. Dial up, DOS and sometimes disaster.

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