looking, pulling, sorting, checking

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Wednesday, January 31, 2007
This morning was my first day volunteering at the library. Woo! Despite the fact that I can work up nerves about anything if I allow enough time, I did not have even one nerve-related qualm. I not only enjoyed the work, but I still think it's a crucial step in my moving-forward plan! Everyone I met was so nice, although there was the sorta weird thing of interacting in a new way with people you've known on a strictly transactional basis in the past. (I'm there at least twice a week already and know most of the staff by sight... but I am pretty sure that weirdness exists mainly in my head and will probably go away soon.) Anyway, it was good and I am so glad to be helping, not only for my selfish reasons (experience, references), but also because I really believe in the library as an institution and am happy to have a chance to give back to a system that has given me so much.

I got there an hour before the doors opened to the public. This was important, because this particular branch is hopping. There were 20 people waiting to get in when they opened at 10. After I got a very thorough tour from a very patient librarian, I was set loose with a long (looooong) "hold list" of materials that had been requested. Portland's library system has one of the highest circulation rates in the whole country, and my branch is second busiest only after the main Central branch --there's a lot of stuff moving at any given moment, which means there are always people out in the shelves looking, pulling, and processing.

Most difficult to find: Manga and graphic novels in general. This area is very popular, there are a million series, and it is pretty much thrashed all the time.
Easiest to find: fiction. alphabetical by author!
Most exasperating to find because the titles are all the same: books on menopause, resumes, or fly fishing. I never had much time for dewey decimal before since I am more of an intuitive browser when looking for myself... but I'm a believer now!

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the process -- finding things, filling the cart, and then doing the next computery steps of getting things on their way. I'm sure the novelty of that will wear off as I figure out the perfect system for me, but tracking down books seems likely to remain interesting. It's like a treasure hunt in a way -- I get to search, I get exposure to books I wouldn't think to look at on my own, and I know that I'm helping some other poor book junkie out there get their fix just a little bit faster.

Sunday is my next day. Since they don't open until noon, It will be interesting to see how different it is to do the bulk of the work while the branch is closed. I think today was a little extra-crazy because schools were out. Anyway... I'm so glad I pursued this. We'll see if I'm still saying that in a month, but for now I have to say it feels pretty good.

And now as a REWARD for wading through all of that, here is a completely charming stop-motion video titled Tony vs. Paul! This made the rounds a while ago. If you missed it then, you should make sure you watch it now because it's a lot of fun. (I particularly like the letter writing.)

6 comments on "looking, pulling, sorting, checking"
  1. Hooray for you, Jen! That must go a long ways towards releiving the itch!
    And if you happen to run across it, I'm waiting for Waiting For Guffman! ;-)

  2. That is so amazing! I had no idea you were going to do this. I know what you mean about seeing staff and recognizing them. Duncan usually helps me and I find him to be intelligent, patient & kind. He also has some great suggestions. You rock! I am so glad you are enjoying it. Green I am.

  3. By the by, Bill Bryson's new book is in transit. Should I pass it on to you when I am done?

  4. Hoorah! You go girl. The longest journey and all that.

  5. Thanks guys! I'm excited, but like I said it's only been one day.

    Leslie: It does offer some itch relief, or at least distraction from the 100 other itching things. I will keep my eyes open for Guffman. I have learned many shocking things about what IN TRANSIT means!!

    BBD: thank you!! I swear I had more interviews for volunteering than I've had for JOBS -- I guess that's bureaucracy for you. Atleast everyone's been nice so far. (and they have aprox. 1 trillion different kinds of stuff you can do for volunteering, if you're interested.)

    I think I'll have to pass on the Bill Bryson book for now. I've got at least a dozen things lined up that I have to get to because I can't renew, etc. etc.

    Thanks, Patty! It seemed like a reasonable point of re-entry to being among the humans again.

  6. Bill Bryson won't be ready for anyone else to read for 10 days to 2 weeks so think about it.


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