Library Life

Do you enjoy your job?

I spent a lot of time inside the public library growing up, though I only borrowed the same three books every time. They were these movie monster books on King Kong, Universal monsters like Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster, and, of course, the King of Monsters Godzilla. That last one received a bountiful amount of love from yours truly.

I would sneak off by myself, sometimes, even though that was clearly against the rules. A rule that I enforced during my years working in the Children’s Department of a later reincarnation of said public library.

Things changed when I “discovered” girls. It wasn’t until high school that I rediscovered my love for the library. While I didn’t check out books, I did borrow their computers to surf the internet and print out my 10-free pages of the day before each print cost me a dime. I nursed my love of books in the days after high school, when I spent days inside my home with no aspirations for college. 

I would love to work here, I thought. And thought again. And that became something I wanted, but not something I did. Not right away. Instead, I read Wonder Boys  and the seed was planted. I wanted to meet writers of books. I wanted to write books. 

So I applied to a local university and attended. 

And I spent my mornings and afternoons sitting in the library. Reading. Researching. Surfing the internet. Never doing homework or studying however. 

I write about this because I want you to understand where I am coming from. How the public library and, later, the academic library filled my time. It only made sense that after a string of contractual work that I would find myself applying for a library job. 

I spent nine years in the public library setting, and the majority of that time was working in the Children’s Department. In the last years of my career there, I was responsible for puppet shows, storytimes, plus all the “menial work” the public loved saying they could do it. And let me stop you there – you can’t, and it’s far from enjoyable. 

Covid did a number on millennials (and Gen Z) workwise. We were exhausted. At least I know I was. 

When I applied for a position in the academic library field, I didn’t expect to get it. In fact, during the interview, it was hinted that the job would be a step down from what I had in the public library. But with city changes and the library’s new idea of what its employees should do, it seemed like a place where I could grow. Not a place that would continue to hinder me. 

I’m not going to say my time there was always terrible, but the way they handled situations that arose during covid was less than favorable. And the way they expected us to learn new skills off the clock, wasting our own free time, was also not something I was game for. 

So, yes, I love my job. And I loved my job then. Working in the library helping people – be it child or college student – seems to be my calling. And I love learning new things with them. 

Photo by Rick Han on

A Funny Thing Happened to Me at Work Today

The sense of under appreciation can cling to you like a gym rat’s stench after spending a humid day at the park deadlifting weights. It’s sense that can arise in any job, I’m sure. I know I’ve experienced it at the ballpark. And there isn’t a month at the library where it doesn’t sneak up on me like an ex-lover trying to make amends. And it’s easy to feel invisible when everyone gets the praise, overlooking that despite their planning, you helped in the execution. People would beeline around me to shake hands with the brains of the operation. Sure, we get the pats on the back. The nods of recognition from those you helped, but it the feeling still arises.

Sometimes, though, there comes your moment to shine and you’re left baffled at the thought that someone actually sees you, saw you all these times. They recognized that you’ve come a long way from you meager beginnings as a “doer” to the “creator.” I’ve had my moments post-children’s department, assisting in organizing the poetry readings to being in the pilot seat. And I think that’s why I loved being part of the poetry readings at the library. It gave me a sense of being appreciated, being noticed. And despite my aversion to get on stage and start the program (or having to find new poets, not getting responses, booking flakes, etc.), I looked forward to them. All good things, however, succumb to the inevitable.

When they told me January would be my final hurrah in the poetry scene at work, the sense of invisibility snuck up on me again. I didn’t begrudge the person they gave the responsibility to, though. I couldn’t have left the poetry scene or my friends in better hands. I coasted the weeks, knowing that the February poetry reading would only be weeks after my final one. There was no time to grieve. Planning for the International Book Discussion needed my attention. I ignored work by focusing my attention on work, if you can believe such nonsense. I designed a scavenger hunt and created puzzles for the children to decipher.

Thursday, it all came together. I watched the children dashed across the department, the excitement of figuring out the riddle, the hidden message word search, the rebus, and the zoomed in picture clues. As they worked on their craft, the school librarian approached me to “pick my brain.” She wanted to know how we went about selecting our books for our collection, seeking “insider secrets.” I explained that we purchased new books, recent award winners, popular series, and patron requests. I admitted that I do browse the children’s books at Barnes and Noble and take pictures of books that catch my attention. But as for any algorithm, there wasn’t much to it. Books are hit or miss with kids. Sometimes it takes a movie for a book to become popular or breathe new life in an old classic. (Note to self: purchase a few copies of A Wrinkle in Time for donation.)

She asked me if we all worked on the games together, and Ida responded that it was all me. This came as a surprise, it seemed. In the past, I’ve always been the seen and not heard library employee. And perhaps that was my fault for not showing initiative and maintaining my survival mouse stance. Being recognized as someone other than that, well, that’s a boost in my personal morale. Seeing that I am the harbinger of the children’s entertainment, that’s a boost in my morale. Seeing my game, albeit a Frankenstein creation from past games done in previous IBD events, entertaining, is a boost in my personal morale.

I may not be the most kid-friendly person in the world—sometimes, I downright feel like my department would be much more cleaner and in order without them—but I love my job for the most part. These kids are my kids, and I’d rather them be excited about the library than scowl at the thought.

I just wish they’d stop making me feel so damn old, though. But that’s a story for another day.


The Collection of the Gently Mad

The first collection I recall keeping consisted of my baby teeth. I kept them inside a small glass jar which I tucked away in a drawer. Most children placed their fallen teeth beneath their pillows. I did this once and the Tooth Fairy left me some money. She also left my tooth behind. Into the jar it went. Not all my baby teeth made it into the jar. Just the ones that weren’t swallowed or lost down a drain. I don’t recall why or when the collection started. And I don’t remember when it ended, or what happened to the jar.

Throughout the years I have collected many things. I collected pebbles, stones, and rocks. Pogs and comics and cards. I owned an array of marbles. Kept business cards in a plastic sandwich bag. Fliers and posters for events I never intended to attend. I archived the letters written to me. I kept letters found in public places where former romantics accidentally dropped them. I owned several half-filled marbled composition notebooks filled with adolescent poetry. Journals are tucked away throughout the house. Some forgotten, others carried with me wherever I venture.

Bookshelves, Shaun's toys, and a foot.

I am nothing short of a hoarder. Step into my house and you’ll see nothing but the sickness, this gentle madness, encoded into my literary DNA. There are four boxes of unread comic books stacked besides the collection I started a year ago. I have shelves upon shelves of books. Half of which remain unread. Some of these books were gifts. Most were purchased on whim. They come from many places. From boxes outside professors’ offices. From a withdrawn shelf at the university library. From recycle bins. From Amazon. Barnes and Noble. Better World Books. Several from Hastings during their last days in McAllen, Texas.

I purchased books because their covers called to me. Because there was an itch that needed scratching. Because they were written by authors I’ve come to love. Or authors that I want to love. Or authors who are loved by those I love. Some were purchased to fill an emotional void. Others were purchased by suggestion or recommendation or after reading an article about the writer or a review of the book. I purchased books for research. To educate myself further. To find my center. Because I watched a movie or TV show based on it. Or because an upcoming movie was adapted from a novel that just seemed right up my alley. Once I purchased a book on the sole reason that a girl was reading it in class.

Hanns Bohatta said it best: “The bibliophile is the master of his books, the bibliomaniac their slave.”

Of the two, which am I? Was the ever a time when I controlled these impulses? Can I say that I am the master of my library? Can I say it honestly? Have I always been its slave?

I never stole a book. Not really, anyway. Some were given to me after being liberated from a library. Some were borrowed and never returned. I’m not willing to throw down money for a signed first edition of a classic text. I’m not about to spend a life’s savings on a framed sheet from a manuscript written by James Joyce or Ernst Hemingway or Sylvia Plath. My addition hasn’t reached those extremes. My career choices will never make those fantasies a reality should they ever come to fruition. It’s simple: I buy books to own books.

I shop sales. Take advantage of memberships and free shipping and discounted prices. I hit bargain bins and tables. Lust after three-for-two deals. Kept track when local libraries held sales. I buy used copies of hardcovers or softcovers, but do my best to stray away from mass market paperbacks; they cannot handle my affection or my abuse.

Unboxed comics beside collection
Unread comics

Of all my collections, my library is the newest and, by far, the most rewarding. Those that I have read have molded my prose, my thoughts, my ideals and ideas. I borrowed personality traits and philosophies, making them my own. They have suggested music and movies and other books, which I come to love and adore. My library ranges from the literary to the realms of fantasy and horror. Graphic novels and comic trades and manga stand beside Joyce Carol Oates and T.C. Boyle and Umberto Eco. There are old college text books, not all of them mine. The cheap shelves purchased from Walmart curve sa they exceed the recommended weight. There are small stacks in my bedroom. There are more making it to my lists. Some I’ve already pre-ordered. I subscribed to Comic Bento just to see what it’s like.

What’s the endgame though? As Nicholas A. Basbanes put it: “Whatever the involvement, however, every collector inevitably faces the same harsh reality. After years spent in determined pursuit, a moment arrives when the precious volumes must pass to other shelves. Some accept the parting with calm and foresight; other ignore it entirely. Some erect grand repositories as monuments to their taste; others release their treasures with the whispered hope that they reach safe harbor in the next generation.”

There will come a time when I’m faced with the decision. And I am uncertain of how I’ll respond. Am I the master, or just the slave?



I don’t drink, but I’m one angry drunk. Someone once told me that drinking is a lot like not getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can bring out the same demons that alcohol can, only it’s less fun (which, I believe, is a matter of opinion). Take for example, I want to believe that I had more fun chatting with my friend Grace on Facebook ’til one-in-the-morning than I might have drinking. Because I, you know, had to go into work this morning.

Someone also once told me that staring at a computer screen before you decide to hit the sack can cause your mind to believe it’s day time, or some shit like that. Basically, you’re tired, but you mind wants to play. So after hopping off Facebook last night, I couldn’t sleep. And it’s not a complaint. I’d do it all over again because I got to get some things off my chest that I haven’t (due to censorship and pride) been able to say online and at work, respectively.

However, the lack of sleep (and the inability to call in sick) left me grumpy at work. Something that both Mike and Angela picked up right away. Angela told me to drink my coffee for the both of us (she’s given up her two main sources of caffeine), so that my nerves wouldn’t be wound up. Fat chance, though. I never told you about Brittney, have I?

See Brittney was a gift from Workforce to alleviate my stress. When Ms. Lopez left us, the books were taking longer to shelve because there was only me. Stress built up. My coworkers did help me after a bit, realizing how broken I was becoming. But Brittney arrived and things were supposed to go back to normal, like when Ms. Lopez was there. And for a short period, it did. A very short period. Like an hour.

She lodged a complaint against the department because we don’t do anything but sit around. That day, however, we managed to read the shelves (me), decorate the department (Angela), finish the puppet show (Mike), get the A-stand set up (Ruben), decorate the glass shelves and display books (Michael and Angela), and shelve a cart (me) all before her lazy ass did one thing. She believes (and maybe it’s our fault) that she’s staff that she’s capable of doing the things we do when we’re not shelving. And while we do recruit her when she’s needed, she’s not supposed to anything but book/shelf related duties. She also stated she hated taking orders from us that Alexa played favorites because she spoke to us (we’re her staff that’s what she does). It left me pretty fucking annoyed.

This week has been one annoyance from Brittney after another. Starting with her inability to comprehend or complete a task. When we get carts, we get what’s on the cart. Sometimes we’ll divide up the sections (nonfiction, fiction, and easys) and head off. But most of the time, we get what we get, sort them, and shelve them. No. She’d rather do the easys because all she has to do is sit on her fat ass and roll. And even that is too much work for her. The other day, Michael and I divided two carts and sorted them. One nonfiction and one easy. A complete cart of easy was waiting for her. I told her that she didn’t need to sort them because they were in order already. Her reply was, “I’m not taking the whole cart,” as if that were an insane, impossible task to perform. Alexa told her she didn’t want her breaking the carts into smaller parts. Mike told her to take the whole cart. Angela told her that it would be easier to take the whole cart. The entire day at work was spent telling her to take the whole cart. She broke them up in sets of twenty and took an hour to do each set.

Today, Mike, Angela, she, and I shelved books. She dumped most of her cart on Mike because she was in the mindset that we were “dividing and conquering,” though her conquering skills need work. Mike managed to finish his cart of nonfiction; Angela managed the same. I managed to finish my cart of nonfiction, fiction, and easy. All three of us were done before she even dented her cart of easy books. I started reading the shelves while Mike and Angela started opening the new supplies that came in and taking inventory. Britteny? Hovered. I gritted my teeth. I wanted to bark at her that the easy shelves needed reading (according to Angela, Brittney stated she’d done six Thursday and another six Friday, which, of course was bullshit). After a while, I found myself leaving wherever she parked herself. I couldn’t be near her. I kept seeing red. I just imagine taking all the pent up anger I felt and smashing her shitty face with it (not literally, it’s NEVER okay to hit a girl, no matter how fucking annoying she is). I purposely let it slip that she was annoying me to another department worker because Brittney goes there after lunch. I’m hoping that word slips that she’s pissing me off by her inability to do anything but exist.

I don’t mind volunteers who slack off, because they’re not getting paid. But Brittney’s getting at least eight bucks and hour to piss me off. And that, my dear readers, is uncool.


Great Things Are Expected

"...upon his heads the name of blasphemy."

I let Jyg talk me into eating WingStop last night. And by talk me into it, I mean the following – “Wing Stop?” “Sure.” Long story short, I stay up until three in the morning fighting heartburn. At eight-forty-five, the library called asking if I could report into work by ten. Sure. I mean, I’ve accomplished much more with less sleep.


After a nine-hour-shift, I roamed the library for Consilience by Edward O. Wilson. I purchased the book off Better World Books the other night, but thought I’d get a head start in reading it. The only draw back is, I don’t get to write in the margins (as if I would anyway) with a copy from the library. However, I’m way too tired to read now.

Man, I remember when I used to run a student organization with only two hours of sleep. What a difference four years makes, hu?


A library job, haven’t I been dreaming about this since I was a little kid? What I would give to work in a library. Luckily for me, I’m used to doing busy work. I did volunteer for half a year at an elementary – I failed to mention that in the interview – where all I did was cut things for the teacher. Still, I feel like I’ve joined an exclusive club that I’ve only heard about and – perhaps – glimpsed once or twice growing up. It fuels my want – need? – to pursue my library science degree.

Still, it’s no baseball stadium. Granted that it took me a year to fall in the swing of things – I was family before the third season with the Roadrunners, after all – I seem to have slipped my way into this world with much ease. Sure, I’m quite. But it’s been months since I’ve worked with someone followed by months of working on landing a job, any job. Luckily for me, I landed one I’m in love with.

Oh Willie, but that’s just the new job high. No, seriously. You people don’t know how much I love books.

Anymore Things?

It’s a small step, but I’ve managed to reconnect with an estrange friend on Facebook. Again, I’m not expecting things to go back to the way they were – I’m not naive and this is not television – but I’m sure glad that she’s there.


“Anything can be anywhere”

"I can spend a day. I love to talk about this."

I cannot live without books. —Thomas Jefferson

It’s not that much of a secret – I’m a book hunter. I hunt books. I’m a junkie itching for the next fix. In any condition, as long as their legible. I have a blog dedicated to my habit. I keep track of those I read on GoodReads. I photograph the fruits of my hunt. I have shelves filled with contemporary and classic fiction, nonfiction, poetry, religious, philosophy, horror, instructional, fantasy, erotic, sexuality books. Some public domain copies printed and bounded by yours truly. Tomorrow, I’m going book hunting with a close friend. I’ll bring home four or five more copies of books that’ll take me a few years to come around to reading. My reading queue runs into the next decade. I’m a stone’s throw from having a problem, which is a sheer indication that I already have a problem. I fear, like a Collyer brother, I will be crushed to death beneath cathedral of novels.

Earlier, I received some wonderful great news from GoodReads. Not only had I won a copy of a novel in a giveaway I signed up for, I also received an offer for a review copy of a novel of a giveaway I lost. I can’t wait to get them in the mail. Can’t wait until I crack open the book, breathe in the new book scent and lose myself in undeniable ecstasy.

I truly have a problem. One I’m not willing to resolve.

Title from Cadillac Jack by Larry McMurtry. Caption quote by Haven O’More. Thomas Jefferson quote from “Letter to John Adams, 1815.” All of which can be found in A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bookmanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books by Nicholas A. Basbanes.