Retirement is a week filled with Saturdays and Sundays interrupted only occasionally by a holiday.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Monday, November 13, 2006

So why…?

So why “The Erstwhile Librarian?” Let me take the “Librarian” part first. In the mid 1970’s, I was a recently graduated English major desperately looking for a career. Tired of the interview question, “How fast do you type,” it was easy to say “yes” when a friend asked me if I wanted to attend Library school with her. Although my love of libraries began as a child when I first read the book "Rosa-Too-Little" in which a little girl spends all summer learning to write her name so she could get a library card, it never dawned on me to even consider becoming a librarian…not even when I worked in my high school library for a wonderful librarian, whose name was coincidently Marian. But at the moment when my friend called with her suggestion, I jumped at the idea. I slogged my way through school and, after graduating, I accepted a Children’s Librarian position (which I thought would be a two year stint just to gain experience) with a major metropolitan public library in one of the many branch libraries. That two year stint became a 26 year career with the Library, serving as Children’s Librarian, Audio-visual Librarian, Reference Librarian, Staff Development Specialist, and finally as “Lead Reference Librarian” at one of the larger community libraries. Never a community library manager (by choice), I spent most of my years in direct public service, watching our patrons (now “customers”) change as the world changed.

Now for the “Erstwhile” part. The definition of that word is “former (Archaic)” and that fits me perfectly. I’m not sure when I began thinking about retiring. As my husband’s retirement plans took form, I began to wonder if it was my time as well. Was I becoming “archaic”…ancient, old-fashioned? Although I’d easily integrated technology into my life as a librarian, I began to have serious concerns about the direction the Library was taking in terms of moving away from the concept of “community library” and towards a more “centralized” philosophy. I valued the notion of “small town library” even as the community around me was expanding and becoming less personalized. Suddenly, patrons rushed in and out, no longer having the time to sit and chat, no longer making their library visits an integral part of their daily lives. We were now just another stop on a long list of chores to be done. And so in 2004, I made the decision to retire. On my last day, I walked out of the library and never looked back. I kept waiting for the tears to come but none did. I’d made the right decision at the right time.

No comments: