Librarians in America (and everywhere)

Working at FantaCo, the comic book store et al., has been very helpful in my current job. I know about balancing a checkbook, applying for a business loan, trying to get a better rate on a credit card.

Berkeley Lab Librarians Peter Palath and Michael Golden
Berkeley Lab Librarians Peter Palath and Michael Golden at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on Friday, October 6, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif.
My dear friend Deborah wonders if Asking Roger Anything would include her son asking me questions about finding work in libraries in America? (He is, last I knew, in France.)

Why, yes, it would. We should set up some online dialogue. Meanwhile, let me give you some general thoughts about being a librarian.

Whatever he already knows, in whatever field, is good. It’s because it will be useful in some yet unexplained way.

Working at FantaCo, the comic book store et al., has been very helpful in my current job. I know about balancing a checkbook, applying for a business loan, trying to get a better rate on a credit card.

Late last month, I gave a webinar about sales tax. It was, well, pretty damn good, according to the reviews.

My interest in such an arcane topic came from realizing that a comic book is a periodical and not subject to sales tax in New York State. But if you sell that same comic book for more than the cover price, it is then a “collectible” and therefore IS subject to sales tax.

(I know that last paragraph was REALLY exciting. Riveting, even. My friend Dave and I talked sales tax that very evening. Seriously. Of course he WORKS for the tax department.)

Working as an enumerator for the 1990 Census was likewise of great value to my current work. If you know the questions they ask, it informs what data might be available.

Librarians HAVE to be curious. You have to want to, no, need to know. You can be trained to do that, I suppose, but it REALLY helps if one is innately so disposed.

This is why my friends Judy and Jendy and Broome nagged me to go to library school in 1990. They KNEW. It was patently OBVIOUS to them, and eventually to me, that my mind works in a particular way. Ask my sisters; I’ve ALWAYS had a need to know.

He doesn’t have to be up on EVERY topic, just his areas of interest. But it is an occupational hazard that other people think librarians know everything about EVERYTHING, when it’s merely ALMOST everything.

This notion, BTW, is laid out in the book called The Library Book by Susan Orlean. Your son probably should read it. I’m about 2/3s of the way through.

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.

2 thoughts on “Librarians in America (and everywhere)”

  1. One of the best ministry jobs I’ve ever had was at a Catholic school library in a Little Saigon. The school was attached to a church. So, the library was open before and after all weekend masses. Whole Vietnamese-American families with many generations would come in for weekly new books all weekend long. I was needed, valued and greatly loved. I felt the same about the patrons. I told my seminary during a fund drive then all about it. The caller apologized that it wasn’t really being a minister…I responded it was the best ministry position I had had up to that point…

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