The Scamp and Beantown: Day 4

Three words: Boston Public Library

I’m in love with libraries. Outside of teaching, working in libraries is the only job I have ever had. The Boston Public library is really a thing of beauty. According to their website:

Established in 1848, by an act of the Great and General Court of Massachusetts, the Boston Public Library (BPL) was the first large free municipal library in the United States. The Boston Public Library’s first building of its own was a former schoolhouse located on Mason Street that was opened to the public on March 20, 1854. The library’s collections approximated 16,000 volumes, and it was obvious from the day the doors were first opened that the quarters were inadequate.

In December of that same year the library’s Commissioners were authorized to locate a new building upon a lot on Boylston Street. The present Copley Square location has been home to the library since 1895, when architect Charles Follen McKim completed his “palace for the people.”

In the latter half of the 19th century, the library worked vigorously to develop and expand its branch system. Viewed as a means to extend the library’s presence throughout the city, the branch system evolved from an idea in 1867 to a reality in 1870, when the first branch library in the United States was opened in East Boston. Between 1872 and 1900, 21 more branches began serving communities throughout Boston’s diverse neighborhoods.

In 1972, the library expanded its Copley Square location with the opening of an addition designed by Philip Johnson. Today, the McKim building houses the BPL’s vast research collection and the Johnson building holds the circulating collection of the general library and serves as headquarters for the Boston Public Library’s 24 branch libraries.

The entrance to the library is a grand marble staircase with two lions on guard.

2015-02-24 11.47.18 2015-02-24 11.55.05 2015-02-24 11.55.15

Sus and I were able to wander around and see the murals and the art that seems to be around every corner, and made it to the rare book room that houses some letters and correspondence from famous authors.

2015-02-24 11.58.23 2015-02-24 11.58.48 2015-02-24 11.59.06 2015-02-24 11.59.58 2015-02-24 12.01.14 2015-02-24 12.06.39 2015-02-24 12.07.29 2015-02-24 12.10.53 2015-02-24 12.12.28 2015-02-24 12.13.08 2015-02-24 12.13.32 2015-02-24 12.17.16 2015-02-24 12.23.2010371304_865732183491776_4907394368445651681_o 10472771_865730753491919_7401235609829725355_o

In addition to the books, the library had some maps on display. I would love to find some prints of them and hang them on my wall.

2015-02-24 12.27.19 2015-02-24 12.28.19 2015-02-24 12.28.49 2015-02-24 12.30.35 2015-02-24 12.30.49 2015-02-24 12.32.53 2015-02-24 12.33.10 2015-02-24 12.33.44 2015-02-24 12.34.22 2015-02-24 12.36.02 2015-02-24 12.37.05 2015-02-24 12.39.10

The library was not the only place of beauty we ventured into though. We also went into Trinity Church. Recognized as one of the most significant buildings in America, Trinity Church took shape on marshland in Boston’s Back Bay in the 1870’s. It really is beautiful building, and the pictures that I took really do not do it justice.

2015-02-24 11.27.43 2015-02-24 11.33.27 2015-02-24 11.33.33 2015-02-24 11.34.06 2015-02-24 11.34.20 2015-02-24 11.34.581502289_865725903492404_4334955004000409467_o 10849076_865726016825726_8725900859545893562_o

Our next destination landed us at the Skywalk Observatory 55 floors above the city. We had a 360 degree view of Boston, and learned some interesting facts about the immigrants that choose to settle in the city.

2015-02-24 13.14.02 2015-02-24 13.20.50 2015-02-24 13.21.08 2015-02-24 13.26.26 2015-02-24 13.42.05 2015-02-24 13.43.04 2015-02-24 13.45.16 2015-02-24 13.47.39 2015-02-24 13.48.57

We ended the day at the Parish Cafe. They are known for sandwiches made by celebrity chefs. I had a couple of ciders and an amazing chicken sandwich while Sus and I debated education, Obamacare and Israel. We found an H&M (Sus’ Mecca) and shopped some sale items.

This was the first day that the cold and all of the walking really got to me. My joints were stiff and sore, and I was in a little bit of pain. I try not to complain about my Lupus too much, but four days of nonstop walking really got to me.

2015-02-24 19.10.25

I have never been so happy for layers in my life. I ended the day preparing for a very important interview and trying not to be nervous about the future.

The Scamp and Dust

 

When I took the job as a library assistant 6 months ago, I knew I was taking a job well below my skill set. I knew that I was taking a job a monkey could do, and that it wouldn’t be long before I started to feel a bit bored and search out projects to keep me interested. Basically, I knew I was not going to love this job.

Today I started a project that makes me dread my job.

Today I started shelf cleaning.

Those of you who have worked in libraries are already feeling my pain. Shelf cleaning means taking all of the books off the shelves, wiping down the shelves with school approve cleaning products, dusting off the books and putting them back on the shelf. When done with a group of people working in different parts of the collection, it wouldn’t take long. With just one person, it will take the better part of 6 months.

The shelves have not been cleaned in well over a year. They look a little something like this:

clean 023

 

I spent three hours today covered in dust before I threw in the towel and hid at my desk. I left covered in dust, smelling like cleaning agent and feeling dirty. The worst part of this project is the fact that there are no rules about food in the library and students where I work are pretty lazy. There will be rotted apple cores, half eaten sandwiches, trash, and who knows what other surprises waiting for me on some of these shelves. When I mentioned to my mentor that I was about to start the project, she reminded me I needed to wear gloves and a mask while working. Student already give me funny looks while I working, so there is no way I am adding to the weird.

download (1)

Imagine the looks I would get in this getup while I work……on the other hand, it would keep my clothes clean…..

The project is job security since no one can be fussed to do the work if I don’t, but it is not really one of the tasks that I would like to be doing. I did a little of this at the last library I worked at, but I always had students to help, and other co-workers that jumped in and would lend a hand. I can choose to sulk over the lack of help (which I think I have done now) or I can choose to see this as a test of fortitude. How long can I make it before I grow a dust bunny in my lung or do permanent damage from inhaling cleaning solution?

I guess it is a good thing my government supplied fake insurance has kicked in.

The Scamp Visits the Library

When I got robbed at Christmas, one of the things that was taken from me was the book that I am using for my dissertation. It was written by a well known author and poet, and not hard to find, but because it isn’t in print anymore, the copies of the book are quite expensive. Since I didn’t get any money from insurance (all of that went to the robot) I did not replace my copy.

Thank sweet baby Jesus for public libraries.

The La Habra library had a copy of the book, and a quick search of the database this morning let me know that the copy was available. The mama and I went over to the library this morning to get the book so I can start the analysis of part of my project. I love the La Habra library. I grew up there. I volunteered for a literacy organization that  operated out of the conference room there. I worked there for four years while I was in high school. I have read most of the books on the shelves.

When we went in today, I knew exactly where the book was going to be. I started my library career in charge of maintaining the children’s section, and since the layout of the library hasn’t changed in 20 years, I just about knew what shelf the book would be on. When I got to the shelf though….no book. Since the books are shelved in alphabetical order by author, I knew I was in the right section. I looked through the books on the shelf thinking maybe it was just stuck between other books (after all, not every little kid in this city…or some adults for that matter, understand the alphabet).

Nothing. I knew from my earlier search that there are copies of the book at most of the libraries in Orange County, and getting a copy wouldn’t be a problem, but I was there, and I really didn’t want to have to shelp across town to another library. Since I have so much experience in libraries, I looked on the surrounding shelves and finally found the book, not shelves with the SOT books, but with the SHI books.

Really?

If it was just Chato’s Kitchen that was in mis-shelved, I would have been okay. The problem was though, all of Gary Soto’s books were shelved there, suggesting that the library page re-shelving the books did not properly learn their ABCs. This both annoys me and makes me laugh because I was fired from the library when I was a senior in high school because the head librarian was convinced that I didn’t know how to read the numbers on the books. She thought the disorganization and chaos that plagued the library was due to me, and had nothing to do with the fact that many people in the city are barely literate in their first language let alone English and had no concept of the Dewey decimal system, or that the library is down the street from the local middle school and the kids like to hang out there after school and mess up shelves and basically run amok in the stacks. Nooooooooooooooooooooooo, it was my fault. When I left she suggested I get my eyes checked for a possible deficiency.

I cried in my car when it happened, but it has since because one of the better jokes in my family. I even wrote a short story about it for a creative writing class in college. To this day, I still consider it some of my best work.

I’m happy that I found the book, and that I can move into the next phase of my project, but I am still stressing a bit about the time. I haven’t heard from my supervisor in a week, and since she has yet to look over my literature review, I am a bit worried. I have about two weeks left before I need to be done writing and on to final edits and proofreading. With the final deadline fast approaching I am about to become even more of a hermit than I already am.

I will be very happy when this paper is done.