ASSOCIATES (vol. 1, no. 2, November 1994) -

Table of Contents

                         Tracy Van Voris
                    former Library Assistant
                      Government Documents
                    Georgia State University
Working a temporary clerical position at an unnamed life insurance
company in Binghamton, New York is the equivalent of enduring the
water drop torture for eight hours a day.  I was hired as a
researcher (due to my extensive library experience, no doubt).  My
job consists of either sitting in front of a microfiche reader
looking up policy dividends or filing...and believe me, this
insurance company puts out more forms and memoranda than even the
U.S. Government Printing Office.  I don't file piles of paperwork,
I file mountains.  Ah, for the job of a Library Director!
Perhaps the worst aspect of this work is my lack of connection to
the beloved Information Superhighway.  While I have a computer ID,
I have minimal access to a real live terminal and restricted access
to computer commands and functions.  I am limited to changing
addresses and ordering files.  It is unlikely I will be able to
afford my own PC anytime soon, working at the rate of five dollars
an hour.  For the record, I must state that my student assistants
were paid better than I am being paid right now - yes folks, they
ARE places which pay their clericals, ahem, I mean "researchers",
less than library assistants.
I miss my library and university colleagues, and my correspondence
is currently limited to snail mail.  Thankfully, rarely a day
passes without someone from somewhere sending me something.  An ex-
email buddy of mine recently sent me a package which contained a
weekly report of his life at Lehigh U, a picture of him petting a
large sheep, and a book entitled _Library Boss_ By Robert, S.
Alvarez, PhD.  That same day, Paulette Feld sent me a hard copy of
_ASSOCIATES_.  The Fates made it clear to me: I was to write a book
_Library Boss_ (Administrator's Digest Press: San Francisco, CA,
1987; ISBN 0-9618247-0-0) contains a collection of writings
excerpted from the monthly newsletter _Library Administrator's
Digest_.  I learned from the jacket cover that Dr. Alvarez was the
first public librarian to earn a PhD in Library Science from the
University of Chicago in 1939.  Over a span of 30 years he head
four different public library systems.  The jacket also listed
several of his personal awards, all of which attest to the fact
that Dr. Alvarez wisely avoided that noxious Attila the Hun
Management style so popular with many from the old school.
Furthermore, any Library Director who admits that cataloging
government documents is the hardest job in the library gets a fair
hearing in my book.
Dr. Alvarez gains bonus points by opposing the civil service
approach to hiring library personnel.  Throughout the many essays,
Dr. Alvarez sensibly argues that one of the best ways to have a
healthy organization is to hire the right people.  He defines
"right" in terms of positive attitudes, "positive" meaning loving
one's work in the library setting.  Dr. Alvarez also cautions
administrators NEVER to discount the value of experience of the
non-professional which is also sensible.  I however, found myself
highly irritated at the UNsensible use of the term "non-
professional" throughout the book.
Like many people, I often scan reviews for the dirt and, outside of
my exasperation on the "non-professional" issue, there is little
dirt to dish...although I must say that this book is NOT a nonstop
page-turning rollercoaster ride.  I skipped over several pages at
a time because it felt like Dr. Alvarez was beating the proverbial
dead horse.  In other words, this book need not have been over 300
pages.  Put simply, _Library Boss_ is a work that would probably be
found interesting by those acquainted with the politics of
If the action on your favorite library listserv is slow and you've
sunk to the level of exchanging information about, oh say, the
trials and tribulations of ex-colleagues or Library Punks, I
suggest that you take a gander at the contents page of _Library
Boss_ for "professional" discussions - "professional" being defined
in terms of not wasting bandwidth on off-subject discussions.  You
can laugh at or mock some ideas in "The Director's Insecurity" or
"Visiting the L.A. Convention".  You can get annoyed at or cheered
by "Relationships with the Staff" or "Non-professionals".  To be
brutally honest, however, this is the kind of book which gathers
dust on the shelves of a Director's office...or maybe not, as my
friend told me that he'd picked the book up at his library's
[Tracy has recently given up the hunt for library work in New York
and has moved back to Georgia.  The Editors.]