Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Did I mention I love what I do?

News agencies love to report misdeeds occurring in or around libraries, hoping the Madonna-Sodom dichotomy of innocent libraries and criminal sin will give their stories extra oomph. Don't be fooled. Libraries are far from the rarefied cathedrals of secular humanism they pretend to be, while librarians are the shadiest creatures this side of the Russian mob. Scratch the adamantly bland demeanor of any librarian and you'll find trails of broken hearts, bathtubs full of meth fixings, and covert careers in porn. You can't even get a job interview at a library unless you've gone to jail twice. Trust us, and beware.

- -The Stranger

So. I’m enjoying my new job more than I could have hoped, and I’m even getting some good reviews and recognition. A tiny bit, but it’s there. And those who know me will tell you: I’m a junkie for external validation.

But I have to say that I totally agree with what Chris Cumo wrote in the Chronicle of Higher Education. He’s got a Ph. D. in History, and he cuts lawns when he’s not a substitute teacher.

You go into higher education, and school prepares you for a life in academia, and then you get out and find out that…there’s probably not a life of academia ahead of you. Aral and I spent a lot of time talking about this last year. We referred to the fact that you kind of have to “detox” after grad school, that you have to spend some time just getting back in touch with reality, back in touch with life on the outside, you know, outside of school.

I mean, Cumo is definitely bitter. But then, wouldn’t you be bitter too? I was certainly bitter while I was working crap jobs just to feed myself, despite the fact that I have a MS. Luckily I now have a job that I love, and that makes me happy. But it was really close, you know? I could have easily ended up managing a Borders – which is a good job, but not what I’d like to do with my life.

Sunday I fly to Los Angeles to attend the Society of American Archivists meeting. And while I’m there, you had better believe I know exactly how lucky I am. For a whole week I get to hang out with people who love to talk about archives as much as I do. I get to learn about preserving different kinds of film, and about digitization projects on the west coast, and I get to go to the Getty museum and look at illuminated manuscripts. I'm a lucky bastard. And I'm glad Chris Cumo reminded me of that.

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