Recently, I had an extended interview for a job for which I was ultimately rejected. I don't know who did get the job, but I'm sure I'll know soon enough. You see, this interview was to become Somebody in the library world. The person in this position will be a Mover and Shaker in the world of librarianship and technology. She'll have the opportunity to see potential improvements in librarianship and make them happen, to change the rules, to be part of the paradigm shift. I'm sure in the coming years I'll see her name at conferences, in books, on papers. And I'll be a little jealous every time.
As luck would have it, my next interview -- before I'd even been rejected from the Somebody position -- was to be a Nobody. A cog in a library system, about 6 steps removed from any reference or research or information. My job would be to make life a little more efficient for those who make life more efficient for those who enable the people who do actual library work. And what I discovered, when I interviewed for the Nobody position, was that I'd been corrupted by the interview for the Somebody position. While I'd not gone into librarianship in the hopes of fame and fortune, suddenly I found all other library positions paling before the reflected glory of my unrealised Somebodyness. All my unrealised hopes and dreams (the novelist I'll never be, despite my mother's constant pressure; the open-source revolution I never made; the PhD I never got; even the BNF
I'm not) brought to light in all their unattractive, spotted, warty nakedness. Suddenly the simple library jobs for which I'd dropped my career, gone thousands of dollars into debt, and changed my life seemed petty.
It's hard getting my perspective back. I remind myself that it's easy in this day and age for a smart person to become Somebody if she so chooses. I have this blog: if I think of clever and world-shattering ideas I can post them. I'm a programmer: if I don't like existing library software I can write my own, better software. I'm literate and intelligent: I can write articles, attend conferences, and generally make a Somebody of myself. But only if I want to
. It's not going to happen because an employer tells me so, but only if it's so important to me to become Somebody that I do the work.
Is it that important to me? I don't know. I'm happy enough in my life, and don't generally think I need to be on the forefront of changing the world. I don't want to be a name everybody knows, though I'd certainly not mind the private satisfaction of knowing that the Somebodys out there owe some small measure of their success to me. (I always did crew in high school plays. Does it show?) It wouldn't have occured to me until I interviewed for the Mover and Shaker position and realised the idea thrilled me. (And terrified me, in equal measure.)
I have to remember that being a librarian is, by definition, being Somebody. Remind myself of all my old lessons in social justice and community activism. Think globally, act locally, and all that. And I do remember, usually. Except late at night, when I'm trying to sleep, and I'm drowning in might-have-beens.Note to self: Self, remember how parenth_blog and mirith convinced you to become a librarian? It was because they showed you how much you'd love reference, and they were right.
Self answers: Doh! I forgot. And Self gets back to the busy game of looking forward to reference and instruction at a conventional librarian position.