20 Years a Librarian

I started my current job as a business librarian on October 19, 1992. It’s the only librarian job I’ve ever had, though I was a page at the then Binghamton Public Library for seven months back in high school.

After I quit FantaCo, and spent a miserable year at Blue Cross, I started being nagged by not one, but THREE people, two librarians and a lawyer, insisting that I should go to library school. I didn’t want to; I had tried graduate school a decade before, in public administration; didn’t much like it. Having no better idea, though, I capitulated.

I found that I enjoyed it greatly. My work study project for the dean, the late Richard Halsey, included doing a demographic study of the students enrolled in the program. Of the 104 folks in the program, the average age was 37, which was MY age! This was extremely comforting.

Since I was in the dean’s office, one my professors badgered me to hold a meeting to see if we could re-institute a student association. Pretty much because I called the gathering, I got elected as the president, which meant that I got to cajole people to go to various student/faculty committees.

After I graduated in May 1992, I didn’t have a job, so I continued working at Midnight Comics until I was hired by the NYS Small Business Development Center Research Network, as the third of four librarians providing reference services for SBDCs all over the country. It had been in Georgia, but they lost the competitive contract.

First, I had to learn how to run a BBS, a bulletin board system, when I hadn’t even HEARD of it before that. My phone was also the fax line, so I never knew when I picked up whether I’d get a person’s voice or an earful of static.

In those days, we mailed our information to the counselors. We had a CD-ROM reader for a half dozen discs, but had to take turns using it. When we were finally on a LAN, so that we ALL could use the CDs at the same time, this was astonishing!

We eventually got Internet connectivity, but we could not e-mail much info. For one thing, even in the latter third of the 1990s, not everyone HAD e-mail. For another, the e-mail capacity for most university-based servers seemed to be easily exceeded.

Meanwhile, we also lost the national contract, based on the monetary proposal, despite accolades from counselors. So we were cut from having seven librarians at the peak, to four. I remember that this was right around the time I was on JEOPARDY! in November 1998, because two of my colleagues declined to come to the Monday night TV watching party, after they had been told they would be laid off the previous Friday.

Now we serve just New York with five librarians. Since everyone has e-mail, we can make documents into PDFs, and we have a site where our counselors can collect the data.

This is our fourth location in 20 years. We started in SUNY Central, downtown on Broadway in the “castle.” Then to 41 State Street mezzanine, which was the most stupidly constructed work space I’ve ever been in; 41 State Street, 7th floor – the only time I’ve ever had a solo office with door that closed – I LOVED that office; and for the last seven years, to Corporate Woods, and cubical land. Rumor has it we’ll move again next year when the lease runs out, but I shan’t worry about that until the time comes.

My previous longest job was 8.5 years at FantaCo. The next longest was 13 months at Blue Cross. So 20 years seems like a long time. There were times (the El Gato period, e.g. – the less said, the better) when I thought that would not be possible.

Happy anniversary to me.

0 thoughts on “20 Years a Librarian”

  1. Yes, happy anniversary to you! My plan had been to got for a Master’s in Public Administration, but it didn’t happen (for many reasons). This is the first time I knew we had that connection, however tenuous.

    You mentioned, in passing, some of the technological changes over the years, but I think a whole post on just that would be interesting—well, to me, anyway.

    (and I tried to stay on-topic so I could allude to one of your recent posts…)


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