ASSOCIATES (vol. 4, no. 2, November 1997) -

Table of Contents

      Two months ago I turned 40. I'm not whining about this.  After
all, I'm certainly not alone. Since 1957 was the biggest year of the
post-World War II Baby Boom, there are many people in the same me, I run into us all of the time.  Turning 40
really isn't a big deal, but I've had some interesting experiences
in the past two months that I can't blame on anything else.  There's
the day I realized that I was having a real hard time reading the
fine print in books when I'm working at the reference desk.  I'm sure
my next visit to my optometrist will be very interesting as a result,
about as interesting as my last visit to the dentist (that reads
$$$).  And one day a few weeks ago, I did have trouble finding my car
in the grocery store parking lot.  Besides the physical things, I've
also found myself reflecting on events and experiences in my life so
far. But, I'm also looking forward to the future...
      In reflecting back, I've thought about my parents, especially my
father who had a big influence on my view of the world.  One of the
biggest lessons he taught me was,  when things aren't going the way
you planned, it doesn't work to blame someone else.  I can remember
many frustrating conversations as a teenager, trying to lay the blame
for one thing or another on someone else by using the line "they did
it".  That didn't work with my dad.  I don't think the word "they"
or "them" was in his vocabulary.  His response to these statements
always was "who are they".  Why didn't "you" do something to make
things different?  That is, if you didn't like what happened, why
didn't you change it.  Needless to say, this drove me nuts, and I
often couldn't understand his point.  But, as I was forced more and
more to face the world and stand up for myself, it became apparent to
me that he was right.  Nothing changes unless you make it change.
Leads right into one of his other favorite lines...."there's a method
to my madness."
      Looking ahead, I realize, that with almost 18 years of work at
the library under my belt, I have at least another 25 years of work
life left ahead of me.  And, I'd wager  that a big portion of those
years will be in the same place I am now.  But, that thought doesn't
depress me....which is good.  I'm not saying I have the best job in
the world, but, I don't have the worst job either.  Like everyone
else, I have some really frustrating days when I go home  feeling
really beat up or down.  It wouldn't be work without days like that.
But, in order to get through bad days, and get up and face another
day, it's important for me to know that I am doing something to make
a difference--someplace.  Since work is so much a part of my life,
I've gotten involved in library support staff issues.  And, I feel
pretty good about that.
      So, what do the personal memories and visions of this 40 year
old have to do with any of you?  Hah, there's a method to my madness!
      There are many issues that are near and dear to the heart of
every library assistant and support staff person.  Better pay,
respect, opportunities for advancement, we all know the litany.
Attend any support staff program at a conference and you're going to
hear about them, either as part of the program, or at the informal
gatherings associated with the conference.  We want to change the
way the world perceives the work we do.   What have YOU done to
change it?  Are you waiting for "them" to change it, meaning the
leadership of your state or local library assistants group, or COLT
or ALA SSIRT.  Well, surprise, "they" need help from every one of
you reading this.  And you aren't allowed any excuses to say no!
You don't have to belong to any group, or spend any money to write
an article for _ASSOCIATES_ or _Library Mosaics_.  Think how many
people your article would reach, and what help you can be to someone
else by sharing some of your thoughts, experiences, or revelations.
And then there is that rush of pride when you see your name in print.
How about volunteering for a committee in your library---even if it
is planning the next holiday party.  Don't laugh, you can do a lot
toward showing off your organizational and planning skills by being
on a committee like this.  If you do belong to your local or state
association, be willing to get involved, don't just sit back and wait
for someone else to run the show.
      All you have to do is be willing to say "yes" and you can
make a big difference.  You'll find out there isn't a big mysterious
"they" making the decisions.  You'll find out it is people, just like
you.  People who have turned 40, who's eyes are going, and who can't
find their car in the parking lot.
...and when she finds the car and puts the bags in the trunk, she
discovers she locked her keys in it!
Paulette Feld
Events Editor, Associates
Management Information Technician 2
Polk Library
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh