Monday, January 23, 2017
Dear library director
Dear Library Director,
I'm just so tired.
I have been working here, if you can call it that, and I think you can, for over twenty-two years. Twenty-two years! Do you know how long that is?
It's twenty-two years and then some, as I previously stated. I don't understand why there would be any confusion.
I realize it is not so much the labors of my job that exhaust me. I have learned a great deal about how to mitigate those with a kind of "work on demand" approach. No, it is the pretense that exhausts me. Everyday I have to pretend. I frequently have to pretend I'm working. I have to pretend I have bosses who are in charge of me. I have to pretend I am a cog in a highly structured library machine. I have to pretend I am part of a reasonably run, hierarchical structure. I have to pretend that I am a library worker, a clerk.
I am not any of these.
I realize this may come as a surprise to you.
Allow me to outline my actual job:
I am a wild card.
I am the trickster of the library, Coyote, the court jester. I am both its good fairy and the touch of acid to keep it honest. I am the library's blogger and its mascot. I am here to enjoy myself. I am the clutch hitter, the keeper of secrets that I will tell to anyone who deserves to know. And everyone who wants to know deserves to know. I am the visionary ignored, the history keeper, the bon vivant, and the teller of tales. I am he who makes our library into a living room, the bartender, the loose cannon, the flaneur watching soccer games in the teen room. I am the one who makes the whole library into a theatrical production of community theater. I am the hail mary pass, the giver of gifts, and the dreamer of library dreams. I am every cartoon ever drawn about books and libraries. I am a satire of bureaucracy, the wilderness at the heart of the library, the burning fusion mysteriously powering it forever, and that which must not be named.
And I am good at this job.
I was made for this job and have made this job mine.
But I am not nearly as good as I could be. I am held back by the false expectations that I should shelve when I'm supposed to shelve, that I should appear busy, that I am beholden to people who are allowed to tell me what to do. I am held back by the urgings of normalcy, industry, and conventionality. This is a painful fiction that serves no one. It merely frustrates my managers. It irritates the more confused of my co-workers, and it dampens my full exposure to the greater library.
It is a foolish consistency, the hobgoblin of little minds, it is Derwood to Samantha, and it is a trim for Samson's unwieldy hair. It is employing dementors to watch over the grounds of the library.
Make me Clown Prince of the library. Trust danger. If there is no way around our entrenched structures then have me report to you, with the understanding that I report only to the mad little gods of the forest and to the books on our shelves. There is work to be done. Dark times are upon us. Now is not the time for us to cower in the shadows, now is the time for us to reach for the stars.
No, I am not the one who reaches for the stars. I am the one who creates the beautiful accidents that hurl us there.
In deep camaraderie and library devotion,
Clown Prince of the library (provisional)