ASSOCIATES (2004, July, v. 11, no. 1) - associates.ucr.edu
[Editor: Gene is a Program Specialist in the Cataloging-in-Publication Division of the Library of Congress. Gene has contributed several articles to Associates. His first article was titled "BWS: The Bibliographic Workstation of the Library Of Congress" <http://bubl.ac.uk/archive/journals/associates/v01n0294/column3.htm> in Associates (1994, November, v. 1, no. 2)]
*Just Do It - Involvement In Library Associations*
When Wendee Eyler emailed me this past April and asked if I would like to contribute an article to this, the 10th Anniversary issue of Associates, I said sure … after I had picked myself up off the floor. TEN years?? Has it really been that long?
I’m reminded of the saying that "time flies when you’re having fun," and from personal experience I can tell you that the older you get, the faster time seems to go by. So the last ten years must have been a whole lot of fun for me! And – oh, yeah – I’m just a little bit older.
Wendee also sent along an excerpt from my first Associates article and wondered if I might like to write an update. Back in ’94, I wrote about the Bibliographic Workstations (BWS) of the Library of Congress: "There are 3 or 4 configurations, based on a 386 or 486 platform, but the "typical" BWS is an IBM PS/2 Model 77, a 486DX2, 66MHz PC with a 210 MB hard drive, a high-density 3-and-a-half inch floppy drive, and a whopping 16 MB of RAM."
Well, it was a decent machine for its day. <smile>
I will update my BWS article only to the extent that I say we have replaced all of those PCs featuring the "whopping 16MB of RAM" with Pentium 4s that are considerably faster and more powerful than their ancestors.
However, if I’m not doing an article about the workstations we have now, what am I going to write about? Will I shamelessly trip down memory lane, gushing about the good ol’ days? Well, maybe a little, if you’ll indulge me just a bit.
The year 1994 was important for me. I attended my first COLT conference, I met LIBSUP-L listmom Mary Kalnin, and I heard Tinker Massey speak about support staff. It was a year of personal and professional growth and exploration. Associates debuting in 1994 was just icing on the cake.
The Council on Library/Media Technicians (COLT) opened my eyes. The Virginia Library Association Paraprofessional Forum (VLAPF) continued the process. Between the two, I became active in library support staff activities. More importantly to my career at the Library of Congress, I became aware of, and over time fairly knowledgeable about, the vast library community that exists outside of LC. It was a revelation.
For the first time ever, I became active within the library profession. I learned so much by attending conferences and workshops, and even more by helping to plan conferences and workshops. I learned things I could not learn on the job –- things are way too specialized at LC to make opportunities available to learn about areas of librarianship I had absolutely no experience in or knowledge of.
This involvement paid off BIG for me. I was able to apply for a professional cataloger position, and after I was hired, the selecting officer told me that the competition for that position was stiff, and my willingness to get involved in the profession through membership in professional associations and attendance of professional conferences gave me the edge I needed to beat out the competition.
After I started in my position of cataloger, I continued my active involvement in library associations, switching from COLT and VLAPF to the American Library Association. Although the level of my involvement has dropped over the last year or so, I am still a member of ALA, I attended the Midwinter Meeting in San Diego in January and – from one extreme to another – I plan to attend next January’s Midwinter Meeting in Boston.
When I look back at my 30+ years at LC, I can see now that for the first 20 years, I had a series of different jobs. The jobs were interesting, the pay improved as I advanced, but my focus was on the work itself, and not the many connections between what I was doing every day and the library community of which I was an unknowing part.
For last 10 years, I’ve had a career, and the difference between a job and a career for me has been profound. I credit COLT, VLAPF, and ALA for providing me the information I didn’t even know I needed to see where I fit into the library community and the library profession.
I have learned a great deal over the last 10 years through these organizations and the opportunities they provide individuals for personal and professional growth. I am so grateful to these organizations for welcoming me, tutoring me, allowing me to try new and different things and in the process acquire new and different skills, and most importantly, instilling in me a great appreciation of the many and varied tasks performed and services provided by those of us so fortunate as to work in libraries.
My career at LC is winding down. My aim is to retire with 35 years of service, and that goal will be reached in less than four years. I have a feeling that those four years will go by in the blink of an eye – indeed, "time flies when you’re having fun" and believe me, this has been a whole lot of fun!
If I can end this rambling of mine with just one piece of advice, it would be to keep learning and growing, and one of the best ways to do that is to reach outside the structure of your immediate duties and responsibilities and get involved in a library association – chances are, you won’t regret it!