When I was 16, I was promoted to Library Page Extraordinaire and went to work in the library basement. I guess they were so impressed with my ability to
hide behind the shelves and read shelve books during my shift that they wanted me to do bigger and better things. Upon my arrival in the basement, I became Junior Book Pocket Typist. You remember the pockets at the back of library books with the cards that a sassy librarian would punch with the due date? My job was to type (on an actual typewriter) the information on the cards and pockets – title, author, Dewey Decimal call number, all that catalog-y stuff – and then cover the books in those clear book covers that make a library book, a library book.
Here’s the thing – I wasn’t the greatest typist. When I started, I made more typos than I could count, I could never get the lines to align, my pockets were crooked, and my covers weren’t the greatest. For the first few weeks, I used to take home all the pockets that I messed up that day and throw them out. I was
scared of getting fired embarrassed at how many mistakes I was making. So, every night I’d stuff my jeans pockets with my book pockets and wonder if I’d ever become a better Junior Book Pocket Typist. Every night, my mom assured me the next day would be better. I could only hope.
Seven months ago, I knew exactly what I was doing when I arrived at work each day. I was good at my job of “being an archivist,” I was a go to person, and I knew how to get things done. Sure, I spazzed out
every other day once in a while and I could be moody when I got annoyed but overall, things were good. Besides, I was fun to have around.
Six months ago, that all changed. Good bye comfort zone, hello new job. It’s definitely been a period of adjustment – both personally and professionally. I’m over the "I don't fit in with these people and I’ll never make friends!!" pity party that I threw myself a few months ago because, quite frankly, who wouldn’t want to be my friend? (I’m feeling a bit full of myself today!)
Professionally – well, that’s an altogether different matter. Every day, I whisper the following three pieces of advice to myself –
1. Courtesy of my friend M. K. – give myself a year to get used to everything and feel like I know what I’m doing.
2. Courtesy of my boss – everything’s reversible.*
3. Courtesy of Pinterest – mistakes are proof that I'm trying.
Some days it helps. Some days it doesn’t. The days that it doesn’t are the days that I treat myself to a great big chocolate cupcake.
In my new position, I’m responsible for ensuring that all of the descriptions that go into our online catalog meet all of the agency descriptive standards. One of my colleagues likes to compare our standards to the rules of the road. Just like there are people who enforce the rules of the road, there are people who enforce the standards. And I'm one of those people. But I’m so much nicer than your average traffic cop.
It’s been quite a learning experience. In addition to learning the ins and outs of the standards, I’ve had to learn to deal with the fact that some people are not going to like what I tell them. And I've had to learn that although they might not like what I say, it doesn’t mean they don’t like me. I don't exactly like it when people don't like me.
There have been some unexpected surprises. The part of my job that I thought I would hate the most…I actually kinda like. I get to teach new describers about our standards. Sure, I’m not over the moon about having to stand in front of people to speak but I have the opportunity to help people navigate the system and write solid descriptions. I mean, I’m no Mother Theresa but I feel good knowing that I’m helping others.
Six months in, I’ve had good days and cupcake days. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve cursed out my computer, and I’ve seriously wondered if I brought a curse to my new office (I blame myself for every technological issue that crops up. And then there was that East Coast earthquake that I think might’ve been my fault.) I’ve doubted myself and my abilities and camethisclose to begging for my old
comfort zone job back. But then I remember a 16 year old girl who stuffed all her mistakes in her pockets when she first started a new job. Her mom was right - the next day was better. And eventually, that Junior Book Pocket Typist figured it all out.
Give me another six months and I'll let you know how it's going!