ASSOCIATES (vol. 6, no. 1, July 1999) -

Library Life:

A Column Of Eclectic Rantings


Katie Buller Kintner
Los Angeles Pierce College

      So, you noticed my new email address, huh? Yes, very pretty, huh? Very LONG, huh? You shouldn't have mentioned it--I'm so shy!

      Yes, things have changed over here on the old Kintner homestead. I am now working for a living again and surprise, surprise, I'm back in another library. Yes, I know, I just can't stay away but since I don't know how to deep fry onions and I'm overqualified to work at the local burger joint anyway, I had no choice. Some day I'll write about my job-hunting experience but for now, I just want to ramble a little bit.

      The new employer is the library at Los Angeles Pierce College, or LAPC in local jargon. LAPC is one of a system of several small colleges in the Los Angeles area and is located in the west-central San Fernando Valley. If you want the tour guide description of Pierce, you would have to say that it's located in a beautiful garden-like setting, with a varied curriculum, young beautiful students, knowledgeable faculty and sheep on the back forty.

      If you want the insider's description, you can note that it is a beautiful campus but it's in the middle of earthquake country and ants are the unseen rulers of the roost here. The classrooms are NOT air-conditioned and the faculty offices are in bungalows that look like they could fall down at any moment. Being new here, and coming from the much larger University of Wisconsin Memorial Library I can't help but be stunned by the differences between the two libraries. Yes, those of you who work in junior college libraries are going to laugh at me and go right ahead. I deserve it! But I had no clue there were libraries that did not have OCLC or even a National Union Catalog. I feel like a naive time traveler going back to the days of rubber stamps and check-out cards. Yep, until last week, they used check-out cards here..and are still using rubber date-due stamps.

      Now to be fair, the LAPC library is a beautiful, spacious place with an atrium right smack dab in the middle of it. But the atrium is weedy and the collection is old because the library is severely underfunded, so the well-qualified friendly staff has to fill in the gaps by any means possible.

      However, the library has some physical problems too. The walls in the study rooms were cracked by the Northridge earthquake 4 years ago. Water seepage during El Nino last year made it worse and ants can get in almost any place. In fact, the Periodicals section is such a haven for ants that this week the library tech there had to put signs on the chairs, warning of ants! Students are driven out of study rooms by the little critters crawling up their legs, attracted by the food that is invariably sneaked into the library and spread around.

      But all of that pales in comparison to --- the Jerusalem beetle. The Jerusalem beetle got in the back door while workers had it propped open and was waltzing around the workroom. In California, this particular disgusting little creature is called a potato bug, but it looks NOTHING like the potato bugs in Wisconsin. This creature was at least two inches long, had a HUGE human-like head and PINCERS! I do not normally get disturbed by bugs but this thing looked like a little old man scurrying around on his hands and knees and it scared the snot out of me! Until the day of the Jerusalem beetle, I had no clue how big bugs got around here!

      Then there are the library patrons. LAPC gets a lot of students preparing to transfer to UCLA, USC or even Cal State University at Northridge (without whose library our students could not survive). However, many of them still seem to think that because LAPC is a junior college, they can get away with high school antics. There is the fellow who leaped over the exit security gate like a Shakespearean faun just to see if he could do it. Then there is the young woman who wandered into the library to buy scantrons ("You mean this isn't the bookstore?"). Let's not forget the party of five who thought the Periodicals section was a singles bar and I've heard rumors about a couple who were coupling in the stacks. Hmmm...sounds like Memorial Library after all.

      Well, anyway, here I am and I expect to stay here for awhile, so write me at the new address above if you get a chance. I'll be the one in the atrium typing acquisition cards. Don't forget your sunblock!

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