by Emily Nichols
Librarians would leave Brooklyn, usually to go back to go back to their home state, and those left behind would wonder briefly what their lives were like now, and imagine they were easier and more dull and lonely. When my turn came, I bought a baby blue linen dress with pink buttons from a boutique in Park Slope that was (I imagined) suitable for a small town New England children’s librarian. The drama of my interview was heightened arriving at the Beverly Depot, which was featured in the David Mamet movie State and Main. The Beverly Public Library was designed by Cass Gilbert (he also designed the Woolworth Building) and it has an impressive beaux arts facade. My heels echoed loudly on the marble floor.
For those readers who are considering a change (maybe not this year, but if/when the job market opens up) I can say it was the best possible thing for me, and I often day dream about not having done it. The transition from Brooklyn to Beverly was not easy and not dull.
What initially attracted me to my current job as Head of Children’s Services in Beverly was having a desk, phone, computer, office, and department that were all mine. In Brooklyn I was managing the school age services for something called a Cluster, a group of five branches that were adjacent on the map but had little in common besides an overwhelming need for library services. In my cluster were both Brooklyn Heights (next to St. Ann’s School and Borough Hall) and Red Hook (next to the projects with their million dollar blocks.) Managing staff and services in five locations when you weren’t any one’s direct supervisor was a daily challenge.
In Beverly I can be constant and responsible within the powerful framework of children’s librarianship. I choose books, I choose staff, I make the schedules and I select, present or delegate programs. It helps that my entire staff is more experienced and organized than I am, except the eager, thoughtful and creative teen-aged pages. The community seems to agree on what it wants from the library and is involved in fund-raising, special events, and the daily work of the library. Every year the public librarians meet with the school librarians to write the summer reading list that is used throughout the city.
Having a computer and a desk and ordering powers has made me a better librarian because I take the time to keep up with literature and reviews in a way I didn’t in Brooklyn, where programming and weeding and going to meetings were my main responsibilities. Unfortunately I also obsessively read Chowhound and mourn my lost lunch options. Lucky for me, Massachusetts is close enough that I can get to Roberta‘s when I have an uncontrollable craving.
Having a fresh start has given me what I said I wanted: more professional experience in a different setting, a desk, a closer relationship with my family and old friends. It has also given me some things I didn’t dream of: enough sleep, a new understanding of and respect for my chosen career, and a consistent writing practice through my blog.
Thank you for reading my posts this month and thanks to Maria and Sarah for sharing their space. If they ask you to do anything, say yes.