Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Retired Baby Boomer Librarian's Bucket List

One dark and lonely night (we have a lot of those around here), I came upon the movie "The Bucket List."

Believe it or not, I had never heard that expression before.

A little research showed that there is not agreement on how old this phrase is. Some believe it originated with the movie. Others feel it has been around longer. But all agree, it is based on the phrase "kicking the bucket."

For those of you who haven't heard of this, the "bucket list" is that list of things you want to see or do before you "kick the bucket," ...er...die.

As a retired librarian, here is my "bucket list," first from a retired librarian's point of view:

  • Before I die, I would like to see the librarian stereotype go away.

Throughout my career, when I have replied to the question about what I did for a living, I have had to hear comments like these:

"You don't look like a librarian,"


"You must read a lot of books (at work),"


(followed by chuckling because for some reason people get a kick out of themselves by saying that. I, on the other hand, do not).

Since during my career I interacted with librarians on a daily basis and saw the diversity that makes up the profession, it makes me wonder, "What is a librarian supposed to look like?"
But ask the "civilian," and nine times out of ten, you would probably hear her (librarians are stereotypically women) described as an intimidating, dowdy spinster wearing a bun and double-tread floor gripper shoes and whose only goal in life is to hush people up and be disapproving.

So my ultimate "bucket list" goal would be to see a movie starring a librarian as a sexy, superhero, flying about protecting people's free speech and right to read, pummeling censorship and basically teaching people good manners.

She is glamorous, yet practical (yes, it's a woman...we deserve superhero status), plucky (I love that word) and witty. She is also well-read (though she would never dream of reading books on the job), not just in the classics, but in popular culture as well. And she can match the "right book to the right person at the right time."

She never shushes anyone, though when battling the forces of evil, she sometimes must be blunt. As she stares down the bad guy, she says , "If you had just read that book I recommended, none of this would have happened!"

  • I would like to see libraries viewed as educational institutions instead of the often mistaken view that they are only recreational entities.

Yes, people go to libraries for recreational reading and entertainment DVDs, but libraries are so much more than that. 

Libraries and librarians are also instrumental in getting children started on the road to literacy before they enter kindergarten. They offer homework help to children and teens in school, and they are there for the adult lifelong learner who needs to learn new skills.

When the money is handed out by the powers that be or a vote is needed to support library services, it should be a no brainer that libraries are as important as schools. 

Some libraries have actually closed due to lack of financial support.

That shouldn't happen in a country where education and literacy are so prized.

  • I would like to leave this world with the knowledge that every man, woman and child not only uses the library, but knows what the library has to offer.

I have always thought that if people really knew what libraries offered, they would be pounding down the doors.

I never again want to hear someone nervously say to me, "I haven't been in a library in years" or "Why do I need the library?"

Libraries offer quality databases (and these are not the same as going on the Internet) that would help small business owners make more money, that include free online newspapers and magazines and information on a myriad of topics to help people with their research and daily lives and meeting rooms where the community can gather. Library web pages offer downloadable ebooks and other information while library programs include classes to help people with their English and computer skills, family events, I could go on and on.

All free and open to all.

But for some reason, despite hard work and attention to this, for every person who uses the library, there are many more who not only don't use the library, they have no idea what they offer.

  • In retirement, find something as meaningful to do to replace my work as a librarian: 

as meaningful as protecting your right to information, as meaningful as getting children ready for school, as meaningful as helping newcomers attain U.S. citizenship, as meaningful as providing a community gathering place for people to share their ideas openly.  Those are just some of the things librarians in public libraries do. 

That will be difficult to replace.

As a retired librarian with 40 years under my belt, those are the items on my professional "bucket list."

However,  I am also human, so I have my personal "bucket list" too.

And, as usual, I am compelled to share.

       (I know he's married but so am I!)

  •  Become a famous character actress
       (I've missed my chance to be an ingenue, I guess).

  • Write a juicy best-selling book.

  • Live my Reality TV dream. Star as "the old one" on "Big Brother" (new season premieres June 25) and win "Survivor," where I "Outwit, Outplay, and Outlast" them all wearing adorable swimsuits and cute sandals. (It's easy to lose weight on "Survivor".)

  • Find out that face lifts don't hurt
       (and I can get one for free).

  • Become fluent in Italian and drive my own boat glamourously through the canals of Venice as I head to my villa.

  • Become a YouTube star (I am sure I could think of something stupid enough to do to get myself on there), and because of it, be interviewed by Oprah who then asks me to become her best friend. And she gives me my own show.

  • Millions follow my blog
  • Move to Paris
  • Better yet, win the lottery so I could have homes in Paris, Venice, London, the English countryside, Victoria B.C, and wherever my children and grandchildren happen to be living so I can hang around them as much as I want.
Sigh. I guess those aren't very realistic - I guess that's my "dream" bucket list.
More realistically, if I can live near enough to my children that I can often enjoy them and the grandchildren, travel to Europe when I get the urge, stay well enough to bicycle in the Cotswolds, live comfortably, continue to make and keep good friends and hear more people say,
"I go to the library all of the time. I don't know what I would do without libraries."
"I think librarians are cool. You look just like one!"

Then I could die happy.

Make my day. 
Share some stories about how the library changed your life.
What's on YOUR Bucket List?

See you Friday for

"The Perfect Hotel Room"

Thanks for reading!

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  1. Libraries were my refuge during difficult growing up years, the result of two fractured families. I'd ride my bike over each Saturday, load my basket up with books, and pedal home to spend the rest of the weekend reading. I wasn't so good at returning them, however, and received more than one personal visit from a library staffer to pick up the dozen or so overdue books gathering dust in my bedroom. I never had to pay a fine when this occurred, which likely simply enabled me to keep doing the same for quite a long time. Happily, I can report that I did eventually outgrow this very bad habit!

    But I can still spend an entire day lost in a book too - I just did so yesterday.

    On my bucket list currently is visiting all 59 National Parks. We have 29 done, with 10 scheduled for visits in the next 12 months, leaving 20 still to go. The 'toughies' will be the remote Alaska parks. The $$$ will be the one on Samoa!

    My hubby has walking Spain's Camino de Santiago on his bucket list. While not on mine, it sounds fun so I'll tag along!

    In retirement, our travel budget is flush, because there are so very many places to visit, and things to do while there. Planning currently in the works for UK coast to coast walks, New Zealand tramping, Paris apt rental, and E. European river cruise. My list seems to grow longer by the year!

    1. Wish I could tag along with you! Sounds like you won't have a bucket will be empty in the end. You will have done it all! You go girl! And I am so glad you know the power of public libraries. :)

  2. Rosy/Rosellen Luther?! I saw your posting on the MHS reunion site which led me to your blog! I knew you in high school and was also one of those who, with our friend Janice and my husband, dropped in on you S.F. You were amazingly gracious despite the fact that you had other visitors - you served a scrumptious stroganoff and gave us a tour of Sausalito.

    Forty years, two sons, four grandchildren, a wonderful career in provincial public service and lots of travel later, here I am recently retired as well.

    Lucky you to be a librarian! The neighborhood branch was a home-away-from-home for me as a little girl and the library continues to be a favourite place...I accessed the on-line Mango Language Program to fine tune my Spanish last year before a trip to South America.

    My Bucket List is more like a Forty-five Gallon Barrel List. I blame my type A personality/probable undiagnosed ADD for that - sigh.

    I did a marathon read of your Reviews and enjoyed them all; I hope you're working on that Great American Novel!

    Lois (McRae) Hawkins

    1. OMG Lois! How great to hear from you. Are you on Facebook? Janice is and she and I are friends there as I am with several other MHS classmates. I have thought of you and looked for you on Facebook when I was searching for "old" friends. Funny you should bring up that visit to SF. I was thinking I was a complete bitch! And now I am trying to remember who it was that was with you on that SF trip who became your husband. When you say "provincial public service," are you in Canada? Anyway so many questions. I would love to get caught up.

    2. Unfortunately, I'm not on Facebook as there is another Lois Hawkins here in Edmonton and I never got around to figuring out some way to re-configure my name...I did mention that I'm easily distracted? My email is loiscm.hawkins@gmail.com. Yes, I live in Alberta with my husband, Chan who was with me when we descended on you in SF.