Monday, September 16, 2019

Laptop Librarian?

Datura this morning, just inside of my gate.

I haven’t written a blog post in several months, mostly because the summer school job transitioned directly into the school year job with very little break in between. My day job taken over by technology. Not ten minutes has gone by while at work when I have not had to troubleshoot, check out, or otherwise stop anything I have been doing to answer a question about a laptop or a Chromebook.

I am not a Luddite, but I really wish the push for technology didn’t always mean that the librarian is expected to be that technology person. I’m sure it comes from the idea that we are supposed to be technologically savvy. What most don’t seem to understand, though, is that this savviness is supposed to be in teaching innovative research tools, not trying to fix the broken technology. That is what my job has become-- the “check out and fix it” person. That’s not exactly what they trained us to do in graduate school. Definitely not a valuable use of time for someone with a degree. I’m not saying that I shouldn’t be doing this because I have a degree or that I am personally too “valuable” to do this work. I’m saying that librarians-- a position which requires a master’s degree— cost the district more salary-wise than what is required to do this particular job. In assigning this work, it also comes at a cost to any library programming put in place. Schools with two librarians are able to come closer to operating normally because they are able to function every day as a library as well as provide that technical support when needed. Schools like mine, who have over 2,000 students between the two schools on campus but only one librarian, do not function as well.

Last year, when the responsibility for student devices was dumped on me, I spent two months straight-- every day-- working on laptops. When we switched to Chromebooks, I set up a schedule, just like all of the other librarians in the district. I guess it’s hard to follow a schedule when you’re not used to doing it, because I still have students coming in during non-support times. The hard part is that I really do want to help them. I can’t do that, though. Having a schedule means that even I have to stick to it. Just because I can stop whatever I’m doing and fix the problem doesn’t mean that I should. If I start doing that, I will constantly have interruptions to classes I’m teaching, or book orders I’m attempting to compile, or anything else I may be doing that is related to being the head of a school library.

Unfortunately, the expectation from my faculty is that I fix it and it doesn’t matter what I happen to be working on or that it is not the scheduled time to do it. It seems that so many people assume that this is just what I’m paid to do. They assume it is part of a stipend and I should spend more time doing it if I’m being paid to do that. Um…it’s not. This is just an extra duty, and it is supposed to be up to me how I handle it. People have actually yelled at me (educated adults who you’d think would know about professional decorum), that this is my job and I’m obviously not doing what I’m supposed to when I’m supposed to do it. That when I say I’ve made time for it in my day, they say it’s not something you are supposed to make time for, its just your job. Why does my school have this breakdown as to what my job is?

So, after all of this complaining about the shifting of my job (thank you to those who have read this far and are still here!), what do I do about it? Well, I get up every morning and hope to have the best day yet. I feed my cats and dog, make my coffee, get dressed, have breakfast and journal about my dreams. I take at least 30 minutes to sit out on my patio to enjoy the sunrise. I breathe in the fresh morning air (as fresh as it can be living in a city!), and just free my mind of thoughts of what the work day may hold. As I recently saw in a Facebook meme, I am building a life right now in my home that I don’t have to run away from. I am working towards not worrying about this day job work when I am at home. Any work stress will just have to stay at work. I don’t have time for it at home. There’s way too much to do and enjoy in life for that!