I’ve known people that refuse to do anything they feel is beneath them. Grunt work isn’t for them. Emotionally, I can see where they’re coming from. Logically, I can see where they’re addlepated miscreants. Doing a bit of the grunt work is good for the soul. It keeps you honest and affords a deeper appreciation for the way things work. I can give you a troika of quick examples.
Every Thursday night I find myself behind the front desk of the Robbins Library, not helping patrons but rather helping librarians. When someone wants a book that their friendly neighborhood library doesn’t have they can make use of the Interlibrary Loan program and call it in from another library in the consortium. Well, once the book arrives, with a myriad of its brethren, it needs to be stowed on the shelves behind the desk. Lately, we’ve been running out of room back there. I don’t know if that means more people are using the library in general or if the Robbins Library doesn’t have a wide variety of books, specifically. Whatever the reason, those books need to be shelved so that the librarians can find the book when the patron comes in to retrieve it. And so I harken back to my bookstore days and shelve ’em in alphabetical order. Is it challenging work? No. Is it useful? Yes. After nearly a year of doing this , would I rather be learning something else in the library? Absolutely. But the tedious work I do is very helpful to the librarians and if that wasn’t enough for me, I’m making not only some good industry connections but also (dare I say) some good friends in the process.
Example the second is something I started but a week ago. After a mere week I can already tell it’s going to be a monotonous sojourn. But working full time doesn’t give me all that much time to really get involved in the extracurricular activities at Simmons. I’ve had to miss quite a few lectures because they happen in the middle of business ours. So when a professor was looking for volunteers to collect Tweets from a list of academic libraries, I jumped at the chance, mind-numbing though it may be. I never really thought about getting involved in research work, but I’m starting to see the use of it. Twitter is a social phenomenon and if libraries can harness it, they can reinvent their place in society. True, they’ve never really been a ponderous collection of brick and mortar slapped together to house dusty volumes, but that’s how a lot of society sees them nonetheless. By embracing technology, they can present themselves as the centers for information they really are. In the stead of scurrying off to Wikipedia to find an answer to a question, people will one day scamper off to their local library. After all, the integrity of the data in a library outstrips that of Wikipedia, peer review or no peer review.
My last example is a bit of a rant. Back when the economy was doing its pratfall into this recession, Partners replaced the coffee makers and their clear glass carafes with one that uses opaque thermoses. So now that sludge they pass off as coffee includes a game of Russian Roulette! You can’t tell if the confounded things actually contain coffee when you want a cup. As I’ve said, ’tis not a good cup. So I venture there only when I’m desperate. Every time I do so, I’m, invariably, treated to the raspberry of air and dregs of coffee. So not only must a suffer a bad cup of joe, but I also have to make it. Is it really that difficult to make a new pot if you finish one off? Yes, I guess it is.