Showing posts with label Libraries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Libraries. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

It's A Librarian's Wonderful Life Redux

[Here is my own version of "It's a Wonderful Life," that was first published a couple of years ago.  I think it is particularly relevant now, so I updated it a bit and share it with you again as my holiday gift to you!]

OK, now be honest. 

How many times have you already watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” this holiday season? 

Cmon, be honest.

Most of us know the story –

Clarence, an angel who needs to earn his wings, comes down to earth to help a despondent George Bailey, who is contemplating suicide, to show George what life would have been like if he never existed.

It’s a fairy tale, but we watch this uplifting tale over and over because we all need reminding that we matter…that the world wouldn’t quite be the same if we were not in it.

Remember this?

(George has discovered his brother Harry’s tombstone)

Clarence: (explaining) Your brother, Harry Bailey, broke through the ice and was drowned at the age of nine.
George Bailey:  That’s a lie!  Harry Bailey went to war – he got the Congressional Medal of Honor, he saved the lives of every man on that transport.

Clarence:  Every man on that transport died!  Harry wasn’t there to save them, because you weren’t there to save Harry (when he broke through the ice).

Clarence goes on to tell George, “You’ve been given a great gift, George.  A chance to see what the world would be like without you.”

So this got me to thinking.

What would the world be like without libraries?

(sound of me thinking) Do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do


CLARA’S VOICE (that’s me – I’m Clara the Angel)

You sent for me sir?

FRANKLIN’S VOICE (He’s the Head of the Angels)

Yes, Clara, People on earth need our help.


Splendid!  Are they sick?


No, worse.  They are not appreciating their libraries.


Oh, dear, dear!  Their libraries!  Then I’ve only got an hour to dress.  What are they wearing now?  (I must be fashionable! – wink)


You will go to earth and show the people what the world would be like without libraries.


Sir…If I should accomplish this mission – I mean—might I perhaps be able to secure library funding in perpetuity?  I’ve been waiting for over two hundred years now, sir…


Clara, you do a good job showing the people how valuable their libraries are and you will get that funding.


Oh, thank you, sir.  Thank you.

The stars fade out from the screen, and a light, an indistinguishable blur is seen. The blur on the screen slowly begins to take form.  We see a group of young boys on top of a snow-covered hill. 


A group of boys is preparing to slide down the hill on large shovels.  One of them makes the slide and shoots out onto the ice of a frozen river at the bottom of the hill.

BOY: (as he slides down and reaches the bottom)

Yippee!  I can’t wait to get to the library and get the last book in the Raven Cycle series.  All the kids are reading that right now.

OTHER BOY: (shaking his head)

You idiot.  Don’t you read the papers?  All the libraries have closed.  Everyone took them for granted and they disappeared.

BOY: (crying) Oh, no.  My dad lost his job and said there is no money for anything extra.  How will I get that book?


Boy’s home


BOY’S DAD: (talking to his wife)

Sorry, honey.  I have been looking for a job for six months now and there just isn’t anything.  I had to cancel our Netflix, newspaper, Book of the Month, magazine and investments subscriptions.  And we can’t afford our Internet access anymore either.  But we can always go to the library for free DVDs and books and can read the magazines and newspapers there.  We can use their computers and I know they have investment materials too.

BOY’S MOTHER: (gently)

Oh, George, haven’t you heard?  There are no libraries anymore.

BOY’S DAD (let’s call him George.  I’m tired of typing “Boy’s Dad):

Oh, no.  I was taking their free computer classes to improve my computer skills to help me get that job. 

And the librarians were so helpful when I needed assistance filling out the online job application forms.  What am I going to do?

MILDRED: (the wife)

Well, at least we can go to Starbucks for internet access, can’t we?

GEORGE: (shaking his head)

I had to sell the laptop.


Remember the last time we were asked to vote to support the library and we thought it was too much?  Now that we have to buy our books, DVDS, subscriptions, Internet access, investment newsletters, and all of the other services the library provided, what will it cost us?

GEORGE: (looking miserable)

I can’t even contemplate it.


When I put it all together, what we would have to pay to get everything we were able to get at the library – all in one place – it was really a bargain.

I guess I will have to give up my genealogy research too.  I was using Ancestry and HeritageQuest at the library. They provided those databases for free.  Even if we had a computer and Internet access, we wouldn’t be able to afford our own subscription.  What will I do?  I had just found my ancestor from the Revolutionary War, Ezekiel Tufnell.




OTHER BOY (let’s call him Bill so I don’t have to type OTHER BOY all of the time) is sitting at the table with his mother, Mary, and his little 3-year-old sister, ZAZA. 


Mama, Mama, can’t wait to go to library to see Miss Susan and hear stowy.


Oh, Zaza, Mama is so sorry.  There is no library anymore and Miss Susan is gone.  She had to move away because people didn’t realize how important her story times were and how many children she was helping with the skills they needed to be successful in kindergarten.

Last I heard she was working in a diner in town.

ZAZA:  (crying) 

No stowy?


Mom, I need you to help me with my algebra tonight.

MARY:  (sighing)

Oh, Bill, you know I’m not good at math.  Can’t you use the Homework Help at the Lib…Oh, no….No more free Homework Help either.


And where will I go tomorrow after school when you are at work?  You know I always go there to get my homework done and use the computer. The teen librarian has some great programs on Wednesdays for teens too.


I’m sorry, Bill.  I, I, I just don’t know.  Let me think…


Oh why did I take my library for granted?



Several adults of all ages are sitting around a table.

ADULT #1: 

I am glad we can meet here for our book club now that the library is closed. 

I hear Maury and Angela won’t be joining us anymore because they can’t afford to buy the books.  I don’t think people realized what an asset the library was for people like us.  I’m a senior on a fixed income and going to the free programs at the library enriched my life immensely.  It also got me out of the house to meet my friends and other seniors.  I don’t know what I’m going to do now.

ADULT #2: 

I know. 

My cousin has his green card and was taking citizenship classes at the library.  Who knew? Those were the only free classes available.  Not sure what he will do if he has to pay someone.  He was also getting help with his English at one of their English as a Second Language classes.


I was going to the library to get help researching my book.  The librarians were really helpful with the computer and making sure I was getting accurate information.  I don’t know what I am going to do now.  And without libraries, I am sure book sales will suffer.  Libraries buy a lot of books!

ADULT #4: 

I didn’t really think about the library.  I just thought it would always be there.



An indistinguishable blur is seen. The blur fades to a starlit sky.


Strange, isn’t it?  Each library touches so many lives. 

When they aren’t around it leaves an awful hole, doesn’t it? 


I think you made your point, Clara.


CLOSE SHOT - Back to the presentZaza and her mother and father hearing a bell ringing on their Christmas tree.

ZAZA:  (pointing)

Look Mama.  Miss Susan, the children's librarian, says, every time a bell rings a library gets funding.


That’s right, that’s right.


I said it was a fairy tale. 

But it's not a fairy tale that...

Libraries change lives.

Change yours and have a wonderful life by using your library card and supporting your library this holiday season and into the
New Year! 

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Thanks for reading!
If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it and/or email it to your friends

See you here Friday for the Week in Reviews!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Interview With a Librarian

Recently an eighth grade girl asked to interview me about my career as a librarian.

She was working in her school library and in order to get credit she needed to write a report about the profession.

She asked me 13 questions that ranged from what kind of education a librarian needs (a master's degree) to what pay you can expect (not much) to skills that would be helpful (just about everything) to what is the work environment like (it depends).

I had to explain to her that my responses mostly related to working in public libraries.  Though I had worked in a college library and a medical library, most of my 40 years were spent working with the public out on the front lines and as a manager in a public library environment.

I expanded on those answers, but the question that really had me thinking was:

What have you learned from being a librarian?

I can't really remember how I answered that question for the young girl, but it struck me as a question I hadn't really thought about.  "What had I learned from being a librarian?" I have been thinking about that question ever since and wanted to sort that out, so here I am.

I have written quite a bit about libraries and librarians, sometimes in a humorous way, sometimes in a serious way, but I haven't really addressed that particular question.  So after much thought and late night glasses of wine, this is what I have come up with.

What have I learned from being a librarian?

I have learned that

  • being a librarian involves many skills and tasks that we never learned in library school, such as plunging the public toilets several times per week. 

I know, ha, ha.  But for some reason, putting whole rolls of toilet paper into the toilet is a fun activity for some people. Not fun for me, though, when I am wearing a cute outfit with fancy shoes and the toilet stall is amok with water.  And again, ha ha.  Yes, librarians wear cute outfits and fancy shoes.  

Another skill that I did not learn in library school - oh, right, it's not called library school anymore.  It's Information School because for some reason LIBRARY is a dirty word.  OK, sorry, I am ranting. 

So another skill not learned in library, er, Information School, is "reuniting "lost children" with their parents who are obliviously using the public computers."  And then there is the fielding complaints thing from the smell in the lobby to "why is that man in the corner staring at me?" I was not warned about any of that in Information School. "Putting out fires" should be in the curriculum as well as on the job description because a librarian's typical day consists of what anyone would have to do when managing staff and working with the public in a public space. 
      (I wrote a blog post called "What Do Librarian's Really Do" back in 2014
       that illustrates that).

  • managing and working in a library requires the same skills as any business: good customer service skills, the ability to lead, initiative, creativity. 

For some reason, people think that all we are doing in the library is what you see happening out in the public areas, which sometimes, I confess, can look chaotic. Several years ago when I was managing a branch library, a woman came in who wanted to volunteer.  Library staff welcome volunteers from the community.  They add value by doing tasks that library staff often don't have time to do.  The woman informed me that she wanted to volunteer because she felt she needed to whip us into shape.  She didn't think we were doing what we were supposed to be doing.  We signed her up and, let's just say, it wasn't long before she realized what really went into running a library.  I think I saw her hair turn white over the course of five weeks. She came to me and said, "I had no idea what you all go through to keep this place going!" 

  • having a sense of humor when I tell people I am a librarian is important because they will most likely put their finger to their lips and go "SHHHH," or say "I bet you read a lot of books," implying that's what I do on the job, or "You don't look like a librarian." 

The sense of humor is important because what I really want to do is bop them. 

Stereotypes still remain when it comes to libraries and librarians, despite the fact that libraries are not dusty institutions run by ugly old bats. Well, mostly not.

  • people like the idea of having a public library even though they never go there.  

A library is a part of the fabric of the community.  They know it's something good to have and they want to have it.  Don't try to take a little branch library away from a community.

But ask the regular person on the street or in a bar or at a party if he or she goes to the library and you will inevitably hear, "I haven't been in a library since I was a little kid," or "I buy my books" or worse yet, "I haven't read a book in years."  But then, after I get over my initial impulse to bop, I realize that people don't really care about public libraries that much.  They just don't think about them.  Why should they? As a librarian, libraries were always on my mind because I lived and breathed them but that just isn't the case for most of the public. They take them for granted as part of what is expected in the community, but they don't necessarily see them as a part of a successful life.  And if we librarians don't make the case for how important they are, why should they?

  • libraries have not done a very good job of promoting themselves and their services

When I was younger I used to think that if people knew all of the services and materials that were available for free at the library, they would be beating the door down.  It was just a matter of good PR and we would be beating people off with a stick.  I thought that 40 years ago and still think it's true, but for those 40 years, little has changed. I have come to realize that the library is not the first place people think of when they have a question or problem and no amount of talking about it will change that until they have a personal issue that takes them to the library and they find out for themselves.  Then they are converts!  But until then, the stereotypes remain.

I call that the "ME FACTOR," (and I wrote about that back in 2014). 

  • if public libraries want to be community gathering places, and many do, then the "rules" need to be relaxed.

Food and drink should be available, there should be areas for noise and vitality and areas for quiet study and staff should be welcoming, professional and knowledgeable and be able to deal with members of the public who want the library to be a quiet, old-fashioned place (and yes, there are still some of those).  Some libraries do that very well; others still have restrictive rules.

And by knowledgeable and professional, I mean that a librarian should know as much about "Dancing with the Stars" and Kim Kardashian as she does about Dostoyevsky and Beatrix Potter and treat questions about them as equally important. No one should feel demeaned by their questions or interests.

Those are the things that I have learned about being a librarian that have also frustrated me over the years.

I didn't share any of that with the young girl. 

I didn't want to discourage her because the truth is, despite some of the issues, ask any librarian.  Nine times out of ten, when asked how he or she likes being a librarian, that librarian will respond positively. 

Despite my feelings about what libraries could do better, what I have learned from being a librarian is that Librarianship is a noble profession that provides a life of service to our communities. 

Librarians help people every day and librarians and libraries protect Americans' rights to access to information, their right to read what they want without censorship and libraries provide a place to share that information. People need a place they can go to where they can get information on all sides of a question and ask questions without judgment.

We will always need libraries and librarians. 

The Internet has not taken that need away. 

One of the mottos of the American Library Association used to be "The right book for the right person at the right time."  I think that's still true, but we only need to change a couple of words to make it say that much more about libraries: 

"The right information and services for the right person at the right time." 

That's what librarians do every day.  They provide vetted information in a timely manner for people who need it that helps them live a better life and make sense of the world they live in.

As I wrote back in April of 2014 in a post called "Why We Need Librarians," I talked about how often a library customer would come to me looking for help, telling me not to bother looking on the Internet because he or she had already looked there and didn't find the answer to his or her question.  I would quickly do a search and find the information and the customer would say, "How did you do that?" I wanted to say, "This is what I do. I am a Librarian." But I didn't.

If you have been reading my blog, it's no secret that I once wanted to be an actress and trained as one.  I actually was in a play directed by Karl Malden.
I dreamed of one day winning a Screen Actor's Guild (SAG) Award or, dare I say it? - an Oscar.

When I watch the SAG Awards, I always enjoy the opening where actors introduce the show and themselves. 

The camera goes from one actor to another and each does a little intro like this...

and they all end their statements by saying proudly, "I am an actor."

So what have I learned being a librarian?

"I dreamed of being an actor.
But when I didn't become an actor, what could I do?
I became a librarian
And for 40 years I have been helping people make sense of the world they live in (in a most theatrical way)!
I am Rosy the Reviewer
And I am (proud to be) a Librarian!"


Thanks for Reading!


See you Friday


for my review of the new movie

"Hail, Caesar!"


The Week in Reviews

 (What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

 and the latest on
"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before

 I Die Project."
If you enjoyed this post, feel free to copy and paste or click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at








Tuesday, January 20, 2015

5 Things I Know For Sure

In November, I reviewed Oprah's book, "What I Know For Sure," where she recounts, well, stuff she is sure of.  Because, hey, she is Oprah.

And there is a lot of it.  She weighs in on "Joy," "Resilience," "Connection," "Gratitude," "Possibility," "Awe," "Clarity" and "Power."

Here are some of Oprah's things she knows for sure:

"It's up to each of us to get very still and say, 'This is who I am.' No one else defines your life.  Only you do."

"Failure is just a way for our lives to show us we're moving in the wrong direction, that we should try something different."

"If you make a choice that doesn't please your mate, friends, or whoever, the world will not fall apart."

"This is the body you've been given -- love what you've got."

"The same questions follow every woman through girlhood and adolescence: Can I really do this?  Will I get it right?  Am I okay?"

And, like I said, she has a lot more of these -- 228 pages worth to be exact.

I, on the other hand, not being Oprah, only have five things I know for sure, but it's a start -- and here they are.


1. Meditation can remove the "bitch factor" from your life.

Meditation has many benefits (and I wrote about them in a post called "A Little Meditation on a Little Meditation by an Unlikely Meditator"), but the one that is most powerful is the capacity meditation has to shut down any tendency you might have to be a bitch (and that goes for you guys out there too). 

When you are still with yourself, you connect to the source of love within you, your soul, that silent witness within that is always there sending you messages of love, joy and inspiration.  When you listen you feel the love that is your true nature.  Buddha said, "You can search the entire universe and will not find another person more worthy of love than you."  When you realize that, when you love yourself first, you become conscious of your existence and the existence of others and can love them too. You realize that at the soul level we are all inextricably connected. And that's called compassion. And it's really difficult to be a bitch when you have all of that compassion and love shining through.  But I know, it takes practice. 

I know that for sure.


2. Libraries change lives.

I know I talk about libraries all of the time, but I think that's what it takes for people to understand the true power of libraries.  I also think it takes just one meaningful encounter for you to understand it. 

Here is an example:

When I was a librarian in a public library, I was teaching a very basic computer class on how to set up a personal Yahoo email account.  The class consisted of about six people who had few computer or typing skills, a few seniors and a couple of people where English was not their first language.  One of the latter was a lady from Korea.  After the class, I gave them all a bit of homework:  sometime during the week send me an email so I can see that you can do that. A few days later, I received an email from the lady from Korea.  In it she thanked me for the class and said that she had just sent an email to her son in Korea who she hadn't seen or spoken to in over a year. So that one encounter, that one class, brought together two people separated by space and time.  Not to mention the lump in my throat.

That is just one such life changing encounter I can relate.

Libraries are not just about books, though books are certainly worthwhile and life changing on their own.  Libraries protect our right to information, provide training and classes to better ourselves, teach our children skills to make them successful in school and provide a place for the community to gather.

If you have a need, have you gone to your local library or checked out your local library's webpage lately?  I think you will be amazed at what you will find.
Trust me. 

And I am going to keep talking about libraries until you do! 

I know that for sure.


3. Television is not evil.

It is no secret that I like to watch television.  My flirtation with it goes way back and I have poked fun about myself and TV in other posts.  And I have no problem with people who don't watch.  What I DO have a problem with is people giving television more power than it really has and ranting about how it is destroying civilization.  I can think of a lot more things that have destroyed civilization than an episode of  "Modern Family."  (Now if you are talking about Fox News, you might have a point, but that's a whole different post). 

I had a husband once who wouldn't have a TV in the house because he believed if he had one, he would somehow be forced to watch it.  Not sure how that works (the evil little TV fairy attacks him and makes his finger press the "on" button?), but needless to say the marriage didn't last.

Likewise, there is what I call the "snooty factor." When I am enthusiastically talking about the latest episode of "So You Think You Can Dance," and someone says to me something snooty like, "I don't watch TV, which in a conversational setting is a conversation stopper if ever there was on, I think I will not let that stop the conversation and say, "No need to apologize" as in "Bless your heart, you poor thing (I can be snooty too)." Because it's one thing to not watch, which is fine.  What am I, the TV police? But it's another thing to feel you need to say that to someone who obviously does and somehow imply you are better than. 

And there is a certain hypocrisy attached to that.  OK, you don't watch TV but are you playing video games and reading comic books instead?

Another idea is to recommend meditation to this person because clearly the "Bitch factor" is an issue (see above).

If we are talking about evil, let's talk about war, racism, mass murder, child abuse, those things are evil.  Television isn't even close.

I know that for sure.


4. Retirement isn't for sissies.

For those of you who have been following this blog since the beginning, you know that I shared my retirement fears and woes since I started this blog.  It's been a year and a half since I retired and like Bette Davis said about aging, "Old age ain't no place for sissies," retirement ain't no place for them either.

No matter how much you have looked forward to not having to get up early and go to work at a job you might not like for a boss you hate, the adjustment to not having that job anymore is HUGE.  What do you say when someone asks you, "What do you do?"  Then you realize just how much you have defined yourself by your job. 

I never liked getting up early, but I had a job I liked and never hated my bosses, which made it even more difficult to say sayonara.  Suddenly you have all of that time you always wished you had.  What are you going to do with it? Where you once derived meaning by merely going to work, now you must find it somewhere else. You need to start redefining yourself, your life, your dreams, what's left of the your future... You are staring your mortality in the face.  What are you going to do with the rest of your life?

So just as starting out in life is a scary adventure, so too is the endgame.  Sissies need not apply.

I know that for sure.


5. Skinny jeans don't make you look skinny.

I thought since this blog is not just about retirement, books and libraries, it's also about movies, fashion and fun, that I should add something about fashion, so here it is.

"Skinny jeans don't make you look skinny."

But who cares?  I'm going to wear them anyway!


I know that for sure.

What do YOU know for sure?

Thanks for Reading!

See you Friday 

for my review of the new movie

"American Sniper,"


The Week in Reviews,
as well as my progress on
"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project."

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at