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Mr. Mustache, another librarian blog

I am a reference librarian with experience in both the public and state government fields. I am doing this on a whim, sort of like the mustache I grew when I was 19 and still have in my 50's.

Name:
Location: New Jersey, United States

I am a state worker and a librarian.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

In the diaspora

The major change in my professional career has been moving to working in a public library to moving to a government library. In effect I have moved from the community of librarians, paraprofessionals and volunteers to the diaspora where only a small percent of the people in my workaday world are librarians or library people.

The change in my environment has been immense. The most notable thing is that I no longer have the men's room to myself. I could rest assured that in a library, the employees rest room would inevitably be empty. I could have my choice of stalls, sing if I wanted, do push-ups if I wanted and no one would know. Now, in the diaspora, I notice that there are men in the men's room. Sometimes all the toilets are occupied.

Vocabulary is different also. In libraries, people use terms like OCLC, OPAC, and patron all the time and everyone immediately knows what they are talking about. My first day in a library, many years ago I found out that library users were called patrons. I was a library user since childhood and always thought we were just the people in the library. It was a surprise to know we had a name. Patrons. Why library users are called patrons I don't know. The term implies that they are benefactors of largesse. Anyone trying to collect a fine or a fee from a patron must wonder how these parsimonious souls got to be called patrons.

I have not experienced break room conversation among men before. Men don't talk about sports like I expected, but they also don't talk about families and children the way women do. If they mention their families it is in reference to something else. "I was visiting my daughter in North Carolina and you wouldn't believe the size of the golf course they took me to." "Military engineers make good money. I can't believe the way my son is treated."

Computers have in some way brought libraries closer to the diaspora. Librarians have to mouse around with web pages, word processing, Windows stuff. They also do this in the diaspora.

Librarians are preocupied with their pensions. So are government employees. Librarians are preoccupied with how many days they have coming. So are government employees. Perhaps I am not in the diaspora at all. I am only in a larger cloistered environment. I'm still a civil service employee. I am even in the same union as before. I look out the window and there is a hot dog stand. He doesn't have beneftits and a pension. Now that is the diaspora!

7 Comments:

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