I’ve worked in libraries since 1971. 45 years! Holy Overdue Books Batman!
I am not new to this library, part-time, nor a volunteer. I have been here 15 years. If you have never seen nor heard of me, don’t worry, I mostly work in “the back”. I am the one who catalogs the product (books / av) and I build out all the computers. I am the one who bumps you off said computers to deal with updates/upgrades (as I did last week and this week …thank you for your patience).
I watched this library go from 11 to 25 public computers (Windows 95 & 98) that constantly crashed, through Windows 2000 (my personal favorite), Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows7 and now Windows 10 [which I cannot deal with until I upgrade two pieces of software] .
I never saw fiction or children’s books, VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, video games, audiobooks (any format) until I came to this library. THIS library has been 15 years of learning. I knew a lot coming in, but I knew I didn’t know a lot once I started here
I love new staff members. Why? Because they are new, the “ways” are not ingrained in them. They might find a more interesting way to do something. Listen to them.
I started as a H.S. student doing janitorial work & mending books. Onto working as a Page/Clerk. Then into the computer era. I have worked in a school (ANC), public (CPL), educational (GDC), technical (PIT), special (CMU), network (PALINET), special (CJS) and back to public (UDP) library.
In the 70s, I watched as the library call numbering system started to move from Dewey Decimal to Library of Congress.
In the 80s, I watched as the library changed from a Card catalog to microfilm, microfiche…. working up to an online catalog [after 4 years, they were still working on it….never saw the end product]. From my vantage point, I watched as folks would go to a computer, get stuck and do one of the following: The professors, who received their PhDs using a CARD catalog, would have tantrums, the college students would move to another computer, the H.S. student would actually READ the screen, do what it said and continue on. It was then I realized the difference in the age and the computer and the willingness to learn something new.
In ‘85, I watched as this thing called a PC came into libraries. What is a PC, I asked….Personal Computer I was told. No more Main Frame. No more VMS/UNIX. We are entering the “paperless” society! It’s now 2016 (31 years later) and some of us are just now going paperless.
True story: in the early ‘80s, with the Director’s ok, I sent an Interlibrary Loan book to the Soviet Union. Three months later they sent it back. Inside a little piece of paper fell out, it read: “Howdy Comrades!”
True Story #2: the catalogers received a new computer.
MY computer stopped working.
Called the company.
She told me we were daisy-chained and they took my address (say what?!)
I need a new address.
She said press F4.
I did so.
She said chose D. (the options were: A, B, C).
I chose D.
A box came up. She said, type: BEAM ME UP.
I said as in “Beam me up Scotty, there is no intelligent life”?
She laughed and said Yes.
I did so.
It came back: AYE AYE CAPTAIN!
I cracked up.
She said I now have an address. I could continue on.
Then onto graduate school. I learned to guide a student to the correct answer (which was a good thing, as I didn’t know anything about Engineering and Science). I learned there were so many different types of computers, programs, etc. …. so much so I learned to take notes so I didn’t “harass” the poor student staffing the computer lab. I learned to send the print job to either this building or that building – not the computer down the row…. a building down the road.
True story #3: while getting my print job at the Engineering Building, I noticed white trailers with a gold star on the door.
I asked the security guy…what’s up? Oh, they are shooting a movie…something about lambs.
They were shooting Silence of the Lambs. The section when Hannibal Lector is in the cage in “that room”…. Soldiers and Sailors Hall …. right there in Pittsburgh.
True fact: the professor who was to be my advisor at SLIS was just sworn in as the Librarian of Congress (September 14, 2016).
My first job was a grant funded position: help educate the small public/school libraries on the steps to automate their libraries. Meanwhile, they educated me…..as they didn’t have any staff, they paid the vendor do the processing of the books. That was such a nifty idea! [UDPL is now doing this — saves money]
The second job was also a grant funded position: to be the non-Hebrew cataloger in a special library. Hebrew as spoken fluently, I was the token Christian. It was most interesting. I learned so much. I had Post-its all over my monitor: what is the Torah? What are Maimonides dates?
True story #4: Judith needed my help in ILL on OCLC. She was going on and on. Knowing the subject so well, I *totally* understood what she was saying, never realizing she was not speaking English. *She* was the one who realized she was speaking Hebrew!
True story #5: Had a 3 volume set in Arabic. Don’t know Arabic. Took the book down the hall to Dr. Nimoy. Would you please romanize the title page? In his palsied hand, he translated the Arabic into roman characters. I was able to find the book on OCLC (an International Database for Catalogers and Interlibrary Loan). I have always wondered if he was related to Leonard Nimoy.
True story #6: The computer guys created a program. This program would do the following: once we uploaded our cataloging, the system would then link the number of items with a barcode and the next morning sheets and sheets of labels with barcodes will have printed out. I never realized how advanced we were. They should have taken this program national, they would have made millions!
It was at this library, this software program started to arrive: Microsoft Office. Bleh! I miss my WordPerfect! It was also here, I realized NO ONE person knows everything. We might stumble upon something and teach others. Listen to what people have to say.
It was also at this library that this thing called a website started hitting the educational arena. I built the website for our library. I went to the main campus to learn coding in UNIX, then once back at my library had to translate it into VMS as we were on a VAX. Needless to say….my head hurt.
Alas, I had to step back in time once I started working at Upper Dublin Public Library. That’s ok. Never realized just how much automation was taking over.
I have learned so much from all of you (from co-workers, fellow catalogers and computer folk, patrons). The slightest comment might open up a huge window of knowledge for me.
For this I thank you all.
We are all students. We are all teachers. We are both.
(saw taped to a mirror decades ago…don’t know where it comes from, but it is so true)