As I predicted, I’ve not been very good about updating this blog. My first semester at SJSU SLIS was difficult, mostly in terms of balancing grad work with my current job and other things. But I really enjoyed my classes, learned a lot, and managed to get good grades! My second semester has just started, and this time I’m only taking one class, as the summer semester is condensed and because I’m moving and starting a new job.
That’s right, I’m moving from Tulsa, Oklahoma to New York City on Saturday. I will no longer be teaching, but will instead be a Tech Coordinator at the new Relay Graduate School of Education. Though the job is not directly related to library science, I think the tech skills and networking I’ll be able to do will definitely help me in the future. And I’m excited to be living in a big city!
One of the first things I researched for my move, of course, was the city’s public libraries. It turns out that there are three library systems in NYC: the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library, and the Queens Library. All are available to anyone who lives or works in the state of New York…and unfortunately, all of them face drastic budget cuts. I am optimistic that the cuts won’t be nearly so bad when the final budget comes out, but the thing is, public libraries shouldn’t be facing any cuts at all. In tough economic times, they are needed more than ever as providers of information and as community meeting spaces for everyone, even the most disadvantaged.
The Queens Library has a video on their careers page that shows pretty well why my ideal career would be to work as a librarian in an urban public library. My two years teaching showed me that good teachers in urban public schools can definitely make a difference, and indeed, are vital components of closing the achievement gap. But my time teaching has also shown me first-hand that good schools and good teachers are not enough to ensure equality of opportunity. As a public librarian, I’d be able to help educate not just students, but their entire families. I could still help students with their school curriculum through implementing literacy programs and homework help tutoring, but could also help others by providing computer classes and English language classes and job hunting seminars.
Though some cities recognize the importance of public libraries, enough don’t that I’m trying to keep my options open, in case I’m not able to get a job at a public library. But my advocacy of public libraries is not just so that I can get a job. I’m lucky. I happened to be born to a family where college education was a given. I have one degree, and soon it will be two, and though I may have difficulty finding a job at times and may have to watch my spending, I highly doubt I will ever have to wonder where my next meal is coming from. There are so many people for whom this is just not true, and it is for them that I advocate for libraries. It is for them, and for the recent immigrants to our country, and for everyone else who faces far more disadvantages than I likely ever will. Education and information and technology are equalizers when everyone has the same access to all of them, and libraries are one of the things that help provide everyone with that access.
So whether you live in NYC, or elsewhere, be an advocate for your library!
Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest. ~Lady Bird Johnson
There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration. ~Andrew Carnegie
Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries. ~Quoted in The Whole Earth Catalog, 1980 edition, originally created by Stewart Brand