Tuesday, May 22, 2007

It's all coming apart ...

Times change, and I guess we change with them. Or we don't, at our peril.

At the library where I've worked since 1981, we are bowing to the pressures of technology. I have spent all day (actually I've spent a lot of time for a couple of years!) cancelling titles which are now available online. Lots of people go to the web first for their information now (and so do I, as a matter of fact), so libraries are cancelling lots of material in print, and subscribing to those materials electronically.

None of this is a surprise. Pundits in Libraryland have been forecasting the death of print format, and while I don't think print will be completely dead for quite awhile, I have to admit that they've been right so far. Our library dumpsters are all full of titles we labored to acquire, catalog, process, and shelve over the years. Our blogs testify to how easily lots of us have adapted to the cyber world.

What is surprising is how this feels, and how quickly it struck. As I was deleting records today, I noticed that I was deleting some of my records -- things I cataloged back in the 1980s and 1990s. Back when I was new in the field, and excited about it. Back when I had great expectations for myself, none of which ever came about (unless they call me right now to be Librarian of Congress, I mean. Time's passing! LOL!).

So it feels like little bits of me are going to that void where deleted records go when you push the button. I shouldn't be so maudlin; it's been a decent place to work, and a good living. But the handwriting is on the wall: downsizing is inevitable here -- it's going to happen. I'm eligible to retire when I turn 55, a mere 15 months from now, so I guess that's a safety net of sorts.

I have to believe that there will be something worthwhile out there for me to do when this job ends, one way or another. I know God has a plan. But I wish he would give me a clue.

Just a little hint, Lord ...c'mon!


Gabrielle said...

I don't like this at all, either. We will be sorry some day...you can't bury cyberspace in a timecapsule for future generations...

Our main library raises money by putting unwanted books in a separate room where people can purchase them for a (usually) low price. I can just imagine how it feels to see books and other printed material going in a dumpster. Heartbreaking.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Judith, I am a retired librarian. I worked in the ancient days when they were all about books. I gradually saw the work change more and more to technology. When it was about books, I loved my job, but if I had to make the choice today I don't know if I would choose to work in a library.

I'll have to say that my husband complains about the time I spend on the computer, so perhaps my choice would have been the same.

Judith said...

Hi Grandmere,

Thanks for your note! When I started as a librarian, we were still getting cards printed and filing them. A few years ago, we emptied all the cards out of the catalog and threw them out! Then we gave away the catalog furniture to a couple of people who collect baseball cards (someone still values print!!!).

What a strange new world!