My Image of Librarians, An Elevator Speech

The following is my final assignment for my Foundations of Library and Information Science course, and serves as an explanation for what I’ve been up to this fall.

You’re studying to be a librarian? You need a Master’s degree for that?!”

I have heard these questions asked so many times, and before I applied to USF’s Library and Information Science program I repeatedly asked myself why did I HAVE to get a Master’s degree to be a librarian. Couldn’t I just learn on the job? It can’t be THAT hard. As this is only my first semester working toward my Master’s, I don’t have all the answers but I know this to be true: it would be impossible to do an effective job as a librarian without the educational foundation necessary to have a full understanding of the library’s processes and systems.

I visit my local public library at least once a week. I volunteer alphabetizing and shelving books. I research new and varied materials outside my worldview to check-out for my family so we can be exposed to lives and cultures unlike our own. This would never be enough to step into a job as a librarian and hit the ground running. I would not know about metadata, cataloging, or budgeting, for example. I could learn these things without a degree but it would be less-structured and piecemeal.

And I would not be working together with like-minded individuals who are all studying to be librarians. This collaborative environment is key to unlocking the library and information science code to understanding all things library-related. Although it is more difficult to collaborate via an online course platform, bouncing ideas off my classmates and knowing others stand with me as I struggle with balancing graduate school, my job, and my personal life has been everything.

Seeking a master’s degree in library and information science has allowed me to begin to find my voice in the profession, and discern what values matter to me. What will I stand up for, and who will I stand up for when I am a librarian? I know I will make space to listen and amplify others’ voices. I know that as a white woman I am what people traditionally see when they picture a librarian, and that needs to change. I know that equity for all will be a theme I will repeatedly assert. I know that I want to fight for greater public access to copyrighted works, which means submitting comments and leading action when the Copyright Act is finally revised. I know that my education of the library world will never cease, and that my acquisition of a Master’s degree is the foundation upon which it stands.

Earlier this semester I had the opportunity to attend a lecture given by Jessamyn West, who spoke about libraries being social justice issues, and social justice being a library issue. Everything she said reverberated with me, but one thing in particular stood out. She asserted that as a librarian, I need to effectively represent the world around me AND my dream world. My dream world is working in a library with a community that knows all are genuinely welcome, and we engage, create, and turn ideas into action. I see some of my dream world present with my fellow Master’s program students, and I cannot wait to build library havens with you and others.

Thoughts in the Quiet

The last time I spent three mornings in a row solo in my house happened…well, I don’t think it’s ever happened since we moved into Little Pink in 2014.

It. Is. So. Weird.

Once the mania of making breakfasts and lunches, encouraging kids to get dressed and helping them with tricky socks and shoes, and walking Henry to his bus stop is over, and Keith takes Elliot to preschool, then it’s just me.

What am I supposed to be doing?

It’s just so quiet.

“In the eye of a hurricane there is quiet

For just a moment

A yellow sky” ~Hamilton

I feel like I’m waiting in the calm of the storm. Having never gone through the eye of a hurricane (with hope that I never will), I can only imagine what that’s like. The anticipation. It feels restless. It feels scary. It feels exhausting. It feels exhilarating. It feels good. It feels free.

I don’t start classes until the 26th so I don’t really have anything I need to be doing so I’m trying to enjoy the stillness. I’ve never been one to take a pause and just breathe. So I’m working on it.

I went to Body Flow on Wednesday and stayed for the whole meditation. I’m figuring out my triggers and how to practice being calm when my anxious fight or flight response rears its ugliness. I breathe.

And I fail. And that’s okay. There’s grace for that.

And I try again.

Day 17 – Rockville MD to Santee SC

E: I miss the houses. I miss all the houses.

L: I miss all the houses, too, buddy.

E: I feel sad.

L: I feel sad, too. It’s okay to be sad.

My conversation with Elliot yesterday morning sums up how I feel about being on the tail end of a wonderful vacation. Clearly, he misses the people who live in the houses. Who he can’t keep straight because he is three and there were so so many loved ones we visited with over the past two and a half weeks.

As we drove home, I just wanted to be home already. If we couldn’t be en route to a loved one’s abode, then I just wanted the trip to be over. Especially when we were stopped in traffic in Maryland and Virginia and the we were all achingly sad with leaving our final friends’s house. We all dealt with our feelings in different but typical ways. Henry kept scratching his brother. Elliot threw things around the vehicle. Then Henry would throw things back. I anxiously tried to ignore everything, but did a terrible job because of the confined space. Keith stayed level-headed until all the other mess happening in the car got to him and he exploded once.

These bad behaviors occurred so briefly on our vacation that they stand out in memory as exceptions to the overall awesomeness. Don’t get me wrong, they often occurred when we rode in the car for an extended period of time. But then laughter would fill the air as Henry decided to make Elliot laugh instead of hurt him because that was more fun. Or we’d all listen to an audiobook waiting to hear how things would end for “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” or “Ugly Cat and Pablo.” Or a kid would fall asleep mid-sentence bringing the car to a peaceable silence. I couldn’t ask for better travel companions. I love them all the most.

We stopped at Santee State Park on the edge of Lake Marion before checking into our hotel for the night. A last-minute decision, its beauty at sunset filled the sky with warmth. We stood near the docks enjoying the cool breezes the end of the day brings, and then raced to the playground for the kids to burn off their sitting-all-day energy. We’ll have to return another day to conquer its several hiking trails. On our way out of the park as darkness surrounded us, we discovered 7 deer alongside the road including a fawn. The boys found them especially delightful. I forget how rare it is for suburban kids to see wild animals outside a zoo. I think I’m going to work on finding the wonder in the ordinary and see what happens.

Day 16 – Rockville MD

A nice way to close out a fantastic vacation is to not really have anything planned and to simply enjoy our friends’ company.

Kate and I (and all the little boys plus Keith) took a walking tour of two playgrounds and a trail. The littles liked climbing the rocks more than the actual playgrounds, as they should. Keith loved the large trees towering over the trail. We could have hit up a third playground to complete our play triangle, but our hunger for second breakfast persuaded us otherwise.

Swimming wore out the kids and created a meatball monster in Elliot. We calculated that he ate at least 10 meatballs as part of his lunch that included pasta and peas. During nap time, Henry pulled out his first tooth! It was a bit of a production before he got it out; ibuprofen plus a special placebo concoction created by Jon helped make the pain go away.

We finished the day was some blue bear ice cream sandwiches and loads of running around. Fueled by dessert or just full of energy, it was a joyous end to our day.

Day 15 – Rockville and Gaithersburg MD

When did I become the kind of person who attends church services while on vacation? Sometime during between Keith graduating Seminary in 2011 and now. I think it’s because it’s just so rare for all 4 of us to sit together during worship that I want to take advantage of it whenever I can. Also, it definitely helps to attend our friends’ churches where they’re preaching and presiding. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a close friend give you the bread of life for communion, but it’s an indescribably special moment that keeps me smiling all week. It makes me happy just thinking about it, and I typically receive communion from my own husband.

We worshipped at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland yesterday, and Kate gave an excellent sermon. The band played some of my favorite songs, and we noisily sat with the Costas (although Elliot moved up a row so he’d have more dancing and playing space).

Afterwards, we swam and enjoyed each other’s company. And ate tacos. A great day on a vacation full of great days.

Day 14 – Jamestown RI to Rockville MD

Beavertail State Park in Jamestown got its name because of its shape – people thought it clearly looked like a beaver’s tail. I didn’t really see it like that, but it’s possible. Before we headed off the island, we visited this park because it’s Hudson’s (Cindy’s dog) happy place. Not only that, it’s incredibly beautiful with its rocks jutting out into the sea and a lighthouse overlooking the southern tip of the peninsula.

We climbed some of these giant rocks that were mostly safe for kids to be scurrying over, and walked along the coast. I’m so happy we made it, because it’s such a peaceful place. Especially when contrasting it with driving among the vehicles on I-95 (our main portion of the day).

We took a break in Metuchen, New Jersey to see our good friend Chris (we hope you feel better soon, Lisa!) It had been eight years since he and Keith graduated from seminary, so you can imagine the catching up that occurred. On our southerly drive, we ticked off the last few new states for the kids – Connecticut, New Jersey, and Delaware – so now the only ones left are ones we’ve traversed before.

Arriving in Maryland, we received Costa love and Henry relished his big brother role by reading to the three-year-olds at bedtime. More fun and hijinks to ensue in the next couple of days here.

Total miles driven = 412 Miles

Day 13 – Jamestown and Newport RI

The boys did an admirable job of walking all over the town of Newport, Rhode Island. We spent our morning hiking the Cliff Walk and imagining ourselves residing in the mansions along the way. We hopped over the rocks, traveled through tunnels, built (and knocked over) stacks of rocks, and watched crabs scuttle along. We walked over 3 miles, with Henry going the whole way and Elliot being carried for a good portion of the trail. We drove past the mansion-fronts afterward and headed home for a lunch of ice cream and pizza (because vacation).

We rode the ferry from Jamestown back over to Newport for dinner. The boat was packed like sardines because the majority was headed to the Newport Folk Festival at Fort Adams. Since we were not, we snagged a table without a wait at one of Cindy’s favorite places. We keep getting relegated to the corner with the kids, but I like it because it allows for more mischief (and this time a window-seat to people gaze). We capped off our day swimming in Cindy’s neighbor’s pool and hot tub, which was exceedingly kind of Joe. I love hot tubs (and so did the boys)!

Day 12 – Wolfeboro NH to Jamestown RI

A big driving day means saying goodbye to loved ones, but also saying hello to other people we love. Hen had been clamoring to hit up Black’s gift shop the ENTIRE time we were in Wolfeboro so we stopped on our way out. He and Elliot bought treasures: a set of rocks and a red car. The thrill was real, and they still have money to spend the last few days of our trip. We also stopped by the Yum Yum Shop because no one can leave Wolfeboro without first eating a gingerbread cookie from there. Happy to oblige, the kids chose ones with frosting, Keith ordered a gingerbread donut, and I ate a praline cookie (& the rest of El’s).

We had the brilliant plan to drop by Maine on our way to Rhode Island since none of us had ever gone, and we were so close we felt we just had to go. Our plans unexecuted; we didn’t make it to the art museum or the beach in Ogunquit, but we did eat a wonderful lunch and hang out at the library. We made the executive decision to return to Maine and do it up right the next go-around.

After being stuck in Massachusetts traffic for forever, we made it to my cousin Cindy’s home. The wild littles needed to run off their energy so we visited the best park – huge things to climb, a zip line, and tall slides – the kids loved it. And the adults spent so much time catching up that I forgot to take photos. Jamestown is beautiful (I feel like a broken record saying it so much on this trip, but it’s the truth!)

Total Miles Driven = 207 miles

Mostly our route; we took 495 around Boston and 295 around Providence

Day 11 – Wolfeboro NH

Lake Winnepesaukee’s majestic mountains surround it’s clear waters, which makes for a wonderfully peaceful boat ride across the lake. Except if you have two littles with you. Then it’s still mostly peaceful interspersed with loud kids singing/yelling the lyrics to their favorite songs while dancing on the life jacket bins. Or something like that. We hung out on the third level, and the cool breezes made everything better.

James, the butler.

After nap time (especially for “the Bill”), we headed downtown to hear the band practice for its evening performance. The boys danced like no one was watching, except they knew some people were watching so they danced extra wild. My boys really bring everyone in their lives such joy. I know all parents say that, but there’s a light within mine that they can’t help but share it with the world. We ate delicious seafood for dinner (swordfish tacos that made me actually like swordfish, and all of the avocado Elliot could bum off of others). The evening’s magic permeated our hearts.

Day 10 – Bristol VT to Wolfeboro NH

Elliot woke up this morning wanting to visit the Village Creeme Stand. Immediately. It tasted that amazing. Too bad it doesn’t open until 10am, or we’d be eating it for breakfast.

Our last morning in Bristol was delightfully spent doing the same things we did yesterday. We ate at Snaps, played in the town square (this time at its excellent playground), and visited with Tom and Claire at their home. Elliot and Henry fed the horse (bye bye Lil’ Sebastian) carrots.

Driving through the Green Mountains, Keith and I marveled at their heights and hidden wonders like waterfalls and walkways. We broke for lunch at Rollins State Park in New Hampshire. Henry called it “amazing” and thanked us for taking him to this park. He also said we should come here every time we visit New Hampshire.

We got back on the road, and swiftly made it to the Petersen’s home in the Waumbeck Woods. We love them, including their new puppy, Tucker. We headed to downtown Wolfeboro for dinner, but since there was a long wait we just had to have our dessert first (mom, you’d be so proud). Ice cream as a first course is always a good idea. The Mexican food we had afterwards was also delicious. Wolfeboro looks way different in the summer than the winter, which is the last time we visited. I love it now!

Total Miles Driven = 181 miles