Guest blogger Mary Franks, student worker and library aficionado, reflects on her 4 years working in the library
When I first came to work at the Calvin Coolidge Library, I was a very nervous freshman with big hopes of landing a work study job in a related field to what I wanted to get my masters degree in (Information sciences). The interview went well, though I tried not to get my hopes up. I have had an affinity for libraries for quite some time (being that I am a writer and a notorious bookworm who collects so many books that they began to eat what little space I had left in my room). But, to my delight, I got the job, and began working as an interlibrary loan and periodicals assistant. I would stamp, tag, and organize all things magazine and newspaper. I took the work very seriously, and would constantly ask my boss if my work was neat enough (I wanted to be precise). I have many memories of listening to Vivaldi in one ear as I stamped and tagged in a rhythm (though I couldn’t follow Vivaldi) as snow fell outside the window.
At some point, I wanted to know more, and so I requested cross-training, and began working in Tech Services and learned how to stamp and tag the books to go into the permanent collection, or how to pull the books which were now considered inferior or irrelevant to our patrons. I loved that I got my hands on the new books first before the potential swarms of hands that would pick it up, consider it, and maybe take it home. I loved knowing that, without this job, the books would not be shelf-ready, and I was making them accessible to hundreds of people by giving them their call-number stickers, and stamping them with the Calvin Coolidge stamp so that the reader would know where it belonged (should they be an avid reader and forget from which of the many libraries they got that book). I leaped once again into a new area, leaving the back of the library and interacting directly with patrons at the front desk.
Every job I got my hands on I adored, and wondered if I was the only student who enjoyed her work as much as one would enjoy getting paid to sing or dance or win a sports game. To me, the world of the library is its own puzzle, which is rewarding to solve. Most of the pieces simply require you to keep them aligned for the rest of the puzzle to work. But the real challenge comes when a patron has a question I don’t have an easy answer for, and together we go searching through countless rows of knowledge to find a solution. But, my most favorite was the little talks I had with the brave or friendly strangers who would strike up a conversation about their favorite book, or topic, or genre, and from there we would bounce from one idea to the next until we reached the same conclusion: we both found another person who loves knowledge for the sake of knowledge.
I have now been working at the Calvin Coolidge Library for about four years, and am now working as a reference aide, patiently waiting for questions on papers, research articles, or books to help the hungry minded individual find what they seek. There are many quiet moments when I work, and many lively, which blend and weave together in a series of experiences that I will never forget and for which I am thankful for. I am Mary, library lover and knowledge seeking aficionado. If you need a chat, or are on a hunt for that one golden nugget of truth, let me know, and I will get you the map to it.