Monthly Archives: March 2007

what does a librarian’s work space look like?

It all depends. But from what I have generally seen, there should be lots of crap everywhere. Files are popular items, but I’ve never been a file person (rule of thumb: file = rubbish bin).

I am currently in decorating mode for my office. I’ve acquired an old wooden bookcase filled with really beautifully bound books – including some first editions. It was just lying out in the hall and no other librarians seemed to want so I said I would put it in my office along my with my ikebana arrangement. It makes me look ‘bookish’. The Tech Services librarians – my team – are also moving into new office space and we nabbed a stack of Gaugin/Picasso et al. prints that were also lying unwanted in the hall. The say it makes them appear ‘arty’.  So between us both we will show the General Librarians – those who work on the library floor – who is the more intellectual of the two groups. The answer is, like, Library Tech Services, of course. Perception is everything.

Any other suggestions of ‘bookish’ or ‘arty’ items for our office spaces? What essential items do librarians or those in similar professions need on their desk space? What do you have on your workspace that is a window to your unique being? On my desk – nothing of that nature right now. Actually I lie – it would be the pink pen that I like to use.  No one can steal this pen cause I would know straight away who has it by following the ink trail.

On my pin up board I have pinned up my ‘taming of the bull’ fabric print which I picked up in a monastery in  Tibet. This is a sequence of ten illustrations depicting the levels of realization in Zen. It begins with the enlightenment-seeking dude aimlessly searching for the bull, and finishes with him finding and becoming one with the bull, then returning to the world and seeing enlightenment everywhere. Like that guy I hope to attain enlightenment one day.

I also have pinned up some calligraphy that my friend Junko in Hiroshima did for me but I never had the space to display them. This is to demonstrate to my office visitors that I understand different cultures. Plus I have a print of Rottnest Island (Rotto) and some surfer pics – to acknowledge my bogan roots and to remind me that what I’m doing is not my dream job of professional world surfer, but I should still keep it in my sight – to NEVER give up.



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week one of New Job

I already have three messages in the work email quarantine centre because they “violated the Profanity Policy”. Bloody hell! Which is a reminder to everyone out there – should you wish to communicate to me via email, DON’T SWEAR or it won’t get through to me.

No more stabbings outside the office this week, which is good. Though when I have walked between library premises I have passed groups of kids sniffing stuff out of plastic bags. I’m not sure what they are sniffing – it’s not petrol, but it doesn’t look healthy. In any case, they look too caught up in their habit to come after me with a sharp (or blunt for that matter) object so I have felt safe walking past them. There is a police station in the same building as the library – so really, it would be hard to find a safer work location.

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library chic, or manic depressive?

The “Ask the stylist” section of the Sunday Age this weekend featured a fashion guide for librarians. It went something like this:

Q: I work in a library, but I don’t want to look like a librarian. I’m on my feet all day, bending over a lot, so low-cut is out of the question and flat shoes are essential…

A: Sweet, clever, book adoring reader, wherever did you get the impression that bookish was  not stylish . . . I am thinking school girl geek meets chic. Pinafore dresses with sweet blouses or knits .  .  . It reminds me of something Sylvia Plath might have worn .  .  . 

and so on, and so forth, including recommendations for $2000 Sergio Rossi boots, Sonia Rykiel grey t shirt ($340), and Zimmerman wool pinafore dress, also in grey ($445). The other option was a Kate Sylvester mustard wool dress ($270). Oh, and of course rectangular black glasses. OF COURSE!

What I am wondering is what part of the above wardrobe style suggests “working in a library but not looking like a librarian”? This so called stylist has successfully reproduced just about every library stereotype there is.

Sophie the stylist is suggesting that librarians are not only allergic to colour (too loud, might disturb the patrons?!) they are suicidal manic depressives (Plath). 

I am quite aware that the fetishisation of librarians, like nurses and teachers,  has a long history. I also think that this is probably a high point in our profession in terms of exposure [and our lack thereof] so we should accept any media as postive.   In general, library stereotypes are so booooooooooooring. I know that some librarians do get into the whole representation of profession thing, but, like, just do your job and wear what you want to wear. Librarians should be concerning themselves about issues of library funding and literacy, not whether they are showing too much or not enough cleavage.

…but if you are one of those people who needs a bit of wardrobe direction, I advise you ditch Sophie’s guide and follow mine, which is much funner (and doesn’t require $200o Sergio Rossi boots):

  • fancy costumes, my personal favourites include the kimono and the muumuu
  • low cut is perfectly ok, if you ‘bend over’ according to OH&S guidelines you will be bending at the knees hence no visible cleavage (and in any case, you need to bring some happiness to the oldies who come in every week – it’s the only social contact many of them have).
  • form fitting t shirts with writing over the chest area (to promote literacy)
  • high heels, there’s really nothing stopping you
  • or Havaiianas thongs with toe socks in same colour (will pass OH&S guidelines as closed toe shoes if your adviser doesn’t look closely at them)
  • anything hot pink, or red, or preferably both at the same time.


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it was miss scarlet with the lead piping

I woke up this morning to a radio report of a stabbing outside MY NEW WORKPLACE from next Monday [26 March].

Since no one seems to know any specific details of this brutal attack, these are some scenarios that staff at the Ath, and also my concerned friend Veronica, have come up with. If anyone has any other ideas, or even better, the truth, then let me kn0w.

  • An irate borrower with excessive overdue fines ($1 per day really adds up)
  • Harry Potter fan after being told that he is number 56 on the waiting list to read the latest book
  • Librarian being asked one too many times what type of underwear she is wearing under her brown knee length suit


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from leeches to libraries

i’m thinking of restarting this blog cause i reckon that working in a library is almost like travelling – it’s a journey of amazing highs and the occasional really really terrible low (equal to a night of leeches in Nepal),  and you never know what the new day will bring .

will i get mugged and lose my passport? Will that book i’ve been hanging out to be the first one to read finally arrive? Will the lights suddenly ‘go on’ and the dewey decimal system [ddc] suddenly seem so obvious, when it’s always been this hazy thing i’ve pretended to care deeply about, cause, you know, i’m a Librarian? 


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