Repartee with a librarian

19 Mar, 2014

by Molly Snyder

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I always wanted to be a librarian. It started when I was a kid, going to the East Side Library in Milwaukee, and enviously watching the librarians stamp book after book. It looked like so much fun: pressing the stamper with the raised backwards letters and numbers on the ink pad and then carefully pressing it on the card in the book.

Sometimes the librarian stamped the due date perfectly below the previous date. Other times it was a little wonky – maybe pointing a little bit up or down. Once I remember the new inky date overlapped the old date and it was hard to read when exactly my book was due.

My sister and I played library all the time. And I played with my own kids, too. There’s something about it. Like playing school except, for me, more fun. Probably because it includes only books and no math, unlike school.

I have spent a lot of time in libraries since I became a mom. Because of my over-extended, disorganized Mom Life, I’m not so good with book return these days and often find myself saying, “The library is free. Well, for most people. Not me.”

I think right now I owe at least a few dollars for one of the “Wimpy Kid” books.

However, when I found out that I was chatting with a real librarian in the Pfister lobby one afternoon, I was stoked. Turns out she was in the hotel for the VRA (Visual Resource Association) Conference and was an archivist from the University of Buffalo in Buffalo, New York.

We chatted briefly about the similarities between Milwaukee and Buffalo – both rust belt cities – and then I asked her a few shop talk Qs.

Me: What is the VRA Conference?

Her: Conferences for a group of mostly librarians and art historians who take care of a collection of visual resources. They used to be slide librarians but now everything’s digital.

Me: Are there still many librarian jobs available?

Her: Yes, they are often called something else now – information management, etc. – but there are jobs in the field. They just look a lot different than they used to.

ME: Do you read a lot of books?

Her: Yes.

Me: What are you reading right now?

Her: (Pausing, smiles.) I’m actually reading a trashy, Swedish crime novel right now.

Me: That’s awesome. I was expecting some “War and Peace”-like response.

Her: Not this week.

Me: Do you ever wear pencils in your hair to secure a bun?

Her: Oh for sure.

Me: Leave it to librarian to be resourceful. Bad pun intended.

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About the author

Molly Snyder

Molly Snyder has lived in Milwaukee her entire life. She started keeping a diary when she was four and published her first poem at age 10 called “The Unicorn” in the now-defunct Shorewood Herald. Today, she writes less about mythical creatures and more about Milwaukee people and places. She is a senior writer at OnMilwaukee.com, where she has worked for the last 12 years. Telling people’s stories is her passion.

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