Part fifteen in a series exploring my work history, revealing how I ended up working in a library. This post: turning a page.
During that first year of being a stay-at-home dad, I returned to college part-time to work towards completing my Education and Museum Studies degree. It was a requirement to undertake an internship in a museum-related position, so unlike my classmates who went off to spend the summer working in museums in New York, Chicago and other exciting places, I secured an internship with the local historical society, and spent a couple of hours there once a week. The only way I could do this was to take my young son with me, and although far from ideal, I was able to get work done while he played on the floor with his toys. I was very lucky; he was amazingly well-behaved, and as long as I wasn’t too far away, he kept himself entertained, while I read through dusty old files, trying to create an efficient way to cross reference the information contained within. Around the same time, I also had to do a collaborative project in the community, to fulfill an Education course requirement. I chose to create four museum programs, which involved me taking objects from the college campus museums and presenting them in the public library as educational events. (This later evolved into the subject matter of my senior thesis, but that’s a topic for a different, much longer blog post.)
By the time of my son’s first birthday, I was ready to find a part-time job; I knew that I needed something else to focus on that was neither baby-related nor college-related. I applied for all kinds of things, including working in Target and Walgreens, just to find a job that would somehow fit in with my wife working full-time and me taking care of our son full-time, while also studying for my degree part-time. Even as I write this, it seems like madness, but I was desperate to find something else to do, while earning a few dollars.
A Library Page position was advertised at the public library. I had applied for a couple of jobs at the local public library before, and hadn’t got anywhere, but I thought I’d give it another shot. Firstly, though, I had to figure out what a library page was; surely a page belongs in a book? Thankfully, the job description revealed all; a page is simply the American term for a shelver (someone who re-shelves library books after they have been returned). Now, I thought, even I can do that, so I applied. I knew that I was over-qualified for this position, and doubted that I would get an interview, but I had become known in the library due to my museum project there, and I was very familiar with the library thanks to all the storytime sessions I had been attending with my son. I was very happy to be invited to interview, and even happier to be offered the job. I worked 12 hours a week, shelving books. Yes, it wasn’t the most interesting of jobs, but I loved working in the library. The money I earned went straight into paying for childcare so someone could watch my son while I worked, but for the pure escapism those 12 hours provided, it was worth it. My life had become incredibly busy, juggling full-time parenting, a part-time job, being a part-time student and still doing all the reading and essay writing, as well as undertaking college projects, but I was happier because I had a job in the library, and who knew where it might lead? What I learned from being a page: shelvers provide the backbone of the library, and without them, nobody would be able to find anything.
Part sixteen to follow.