Being a librarian isn’t just a job. No one goes to college and then just decides, “You know what? Fuck it. I guess I’ll just be a librarian. Lots of money in that.” That’s not to say that people don’t fall ass-backwards into librarianship (as I did). No matter when you discover your bibliographical calling, there’s no denying that there are specific personality traits that most librarians tend to possess. Nobody in the history of librarianship has ever announced their decision to attend library school to their friends and family and heard, “Well, huh. Didn’t see that coming at all.”
For example: if I woke up tomorrow and libraries suddenly didn’t exist anymore, the cans on my pantry shelves would still be stocked label out, evenly spaced, grouped together by item and shelved with similar food groups. I wouldn’t suddenly be like, “Welp, done with that bullshit!” and just start throwing cans on the shelf in any old order, mixing soups with canned pasta, not bothering to sort the different varieties of ravioli. WHAT KIND OF WAY IS THAT TO LIVE?
Strangers pick up on it without being told. If I had a dime for every time someone stopped me in a store to ask me a reference question, I wouldn’t be scraping for change to buy my Pepsi from the machine at work. And it’s not just bookstores, either. Once I had to look up a question about some kind of Asian hot sauce at the grocery store. People consult me about cold medicine at Target. And even at…ahh, hell. Who am I kidding? I only shop at those two stores.
functionally obsessive-compulsive organized can make everyday tasks more complicated. I can’t just throw a bunch of those little plastic figures, animals, and dolls that cover every square inch of my house into a bucket and call it a day. Oooooooooh no. There’s three buckets, and the toys must be sorted by a) size and b) type. Larger dolls and animals go in one bucket, and smaller figures go in the other two. However, anything furniture or housewares-related has to be placed in the dollhouse next to the buckets. Cars or other vehicles (including busses, airplanes, helicopters, etc.) go next to the house. Lalaloopsies have a completely separate storage container in the next room, along with little dinosaurs, little horses, tiny princesses, and stuffed animals. The kids do a good job of keeping the toys separated when they play HAHAHAHAHAHAHA NOT REALLY. So, a one-minute scoop-and-dump job takes twenty minutes of sorting and arranging. All so that Bella can immediately walk over to the buckets, dump out the entire contents of each bucket onto the floor and then just walk away I SHIT YOU NOT.
At any rate, suffice it to say that I made a fortuitous career choice. Thank God the demand for history majors without teaching certificates was so low when I graduated from college. Which, by the way, thanks for all that amazing career counseling in college, guys! They could have at least taped a few brochures for the grad schools in the area to the back of my diploma. Luckily, I made it to library school and stumbled into a career that I enjoy and (I like to think) am pretty good at. I do my best to hold up the positive stereotypes, and dispel the bad ones. I rarely show up to work without sporting a loosely-done bun in my hair held in place with nothing but a pencil, and am ever-prepared to whip it out and shake out my hair around my black plastic-frame glasses. Then I spend my day helping stoners research their paper on marijuana legalization and helping students that can’t save to their flash drive because they plugged it into the computer next to them. I do all this with a straight face and a smile.
Because that’s how I do.