ASSOCIATES (2004, July, v. 11, no. 1) -

[Editor: Carol Borzyskowski has been a contributor to Associates since 1998. Her first article was "Are We Up Yet? Or Launching a Website" <> in Associates (1998, March, v. 4, no. 3). She has contributed several other articles, and settled in to her regular column "My View from the Back Room" in the July 2000 issue.]

*My View from the Back Room*


Carol Borzyskowski
Associate II
Winona Public Library
Winona, Minnesota

You say itís your birthdayÖwell happy birthday to ya!

Gads, TEN years Associates has been here for us? TEN YEARS? In the electronic age, years must be roughly equal to dog years, right? So Associates is a Grand ole Gal! And because we know wisdom does come with age and experience, we are a lucky bunch to be a part of this glorious celebration and journal. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ALL and to all a good read.

I honestly have been thinking about this column, and trying to think back to how things were ten years ago when Associates first came along. The embarrassing truth is I cannot remember that far back. The years of my life have just sort of elided and one year flows right into the next. There is also the fact that my memory is about the size of a post-it sticky, and holds only one or two salient items, period. So I will just focus on my library job over the past ten years and see if I can find the post-its marking the way.

Ten years ago I had a dot-matrix, form-feed printer. Yeah, remember those? Oh, I forgot again, we still have one in tech services. Our cataloger refuses to part with it, she uses it to print out the records she adds, and that is the ONLY way it works for her. I believe I had an Epson computer and my monitor screen was black with amber writing. WOW!

I was also using SMTP envelopes to send email. Not that I sent a lot of email back then. In fact I remember wondering just what it was, and no one could actually tell me. It took us forever to find out if we had email capabilities on our SELCO system. When we did realize we had it, we had to learn on our own. No, it was not nearly as simple as Netscape, or Outlook. For instance, there wasnít a way to "quote" the message, or to add comments to a received message. Well, there might have been but we didnít use that function. It took me about 2 days to figure out how to forward my mail. I do remember that. And, I donít think I could do it locally, I had to call in and have it set.

Now today, HA! I come in after a 2 day weekend and I have an average of 250 messages sitting in my mail box. All these wonderful new friends that want to enhance my life, activities, health, and finances. Of the 250, perhaps 8 are messages I want or need. I think I get so many because my email address is out on the web site. I sure donít personally go to the types of places that send email to me.

Another memory of years back, was just starting up the Library Web Site. It was all new and exciting, and I added every flashy graphic and jazzy color I could cram in there. It was fun learning how to design something new and wide open. I had problems, a few sites yanked (city management not as liberal as me) and after countless hours of viewing sites, reading, and taking classes, I settled on a less flashy but much nicer site.

One of the big problems is time. Those EIGHT hours that comprise my work day have drastically shifted. No, I havenít entered a time warp continuumówait, maybe I have, in fact I bet I haveómy scheduled tasks have shifted times. I used to have time to learn new things and work on fun stuff like designing web pages. Now I donít. That is the simple fact and I may as well tell you all, I donít enjoy my job near as much as I did ten years ago.

Even though in the past ten years I managed to finally get my BA and get a nice promotion at work, attend an ALA convention in San Francisco, and help train people to run our new Dynix Horizon computer system, I feel stifled.

Ten years ago I had more time to be creative at work. I worked 1-2 hours a day at the Circulation Desk where things, while not always pleasant, were always interesting. I processed all the magazines that the library subscribed to. That meant I could keep up on the latest gossip and trends. I mean, of course, from the professional journals (yeah, right!). I updated all the patron registrations, and I handled the clerical end of all the Inter-Library loans. I pulled the books off the shelf, packaged them up, unpackaged the incoming and put them on the shelves for our patrons. That took maybe 3 hours a day.

What has happened now, to my job, thanks to our new computer system, is I spend one hour a day at the Circulation Desk, gave up the magazine processing, and the rest of my time is spent on packing up and unpacking ILL materials. In between that, I manage to keep up with patron registrations, and if I am lucky once a month, I can make a quick update to the WebPages. In fact last month, a fellow staffer came up to me and handed me a list containing the BTypes and BStats we are to use for our patrons and informed me she had run off our patron database and was going in and correcting and updating it. I stood there in my tiny ILL closet stunned. I have managed that database for seventeen years.

What the next ten years hold are as yet hidden behind the veil, but I am dragging myself out of the slough of despair with the help from people like the many readers of Associates, wonderful friendships that have sprung up via email from this magazine, people like Wendee (our editor) and Jim Jackson, a friend and fellow contributor. I have hung up some Feng Shui symbols around my desk, and in my ILL closet. I continue to write and enjoy the patrons of the library. I advocate strongly for libraries in general and ours in particular, and I send out gentle blessings to ILL clerks everywhere.

On a personal note, thanks to my experience working with people, and writing articles and poetry, a partner and I are starting up a new literary magazine, which I know will give me the creativity and excitement I crave. When one is stuck in a closet with no windows, oneís interior life has to be colorful indeed. I feel good about the venture and invite you all to check out our website ("Main Channel Voices" at and let me know what you think.

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