Sunday, 21 August 2011

Yesterday afternoon I went to

the social meeting of our knitting guild. My job at our guild is that of librarian. I have been librarian for nearly eleven years now. Nobody else wants the job.
I took on the job not long after I joined the group. The previous librarian was in her mid-eighties. There were three shelves of old donated books in a cupboard. She guarded these as if her life depended on it. Books were only loaned with the greatest of reluctance. I do not blame her in the least. It was just the way the system had developed. The fact that the books had been donated made her feel that none of them could ever be discarded, not even the tatty multiple copies.
No money had been spent on the library and most people were unaware of the wonderful array of good knitting books which were available. The exception was one member, an office bearer, who was a librarian on the verge of retirement. She knows a good deal about books and she knows about knitting books and the internet. Between us we transformed the library. We culled books and we insisted that some of the guild's healthy bank balance be spent on new books.
I buy books, maintain the order of the library and open the library for an hour each time the guild meets. When I put new books into the library I write a review of them for the newsletter. It is my contribution to the group. The professional librarian, now not in good health, does not often come to meetings. She has done her turn as Secretary and President and she has done much to support me.
Next meeting will be our AGM. There has been much discussion in the group about who will be the new officebearers. Nobody wants to be President. Nobody wants to be Secretary. I was asked and I have refused. I can never, because of another commitment, get to meetings on time.
I also pointed out that I already have a job. If the guild wants to survive they will need to find other members willing to take their turn.
Some people seemed rather puzzled by this. The library is apparently not seen as a job of any sort. It is "just books" it is "just there" and "there is not much to do".
The professional librarian and I have discussed this. It seems to be a commonly held view. The job of librarian is not to be taken seriously. It seems you can just sit there and read the books. There is a shelf-elf of some sort who does the actual work. Unfortunately I have not yet met the shelf-elf.


JO said...

This must be so hard - you can see just how important libraries are. They have the potential to be a community hub, where older people can while away reading hours, small children can come to have story times and explore the joy of reading.

But they cannot survive without people supporting them - doing the hard, unseen, unacknowledged work to keep the show in the road. I hope your community knows how lucky it is having you doing the best you can.

Rachel Fenton said...

The Little Red Hen springs to mind.

catdownunder said...

I think one or two might Jo - the rest of them? Rachel you may be right!