Friday, October 06, 2006

Humor, Finding

Poor Old DearLife can be trying. Work can really get to you if you let it. I'm not really sure which is more sad - thinking those things, or actually putting them down in print.

So tonight, in Academia Land, while filing and sorting images, I unearthed (no pun intended) some cave paintings. While going through one of my nearly antique, yet trust Multiplex cases, I laughed outloud.

The slide rack to file it under was labeled: "Paleolithic Painting, by Puente Viesgo." It read like all the others "French Painting, by Degas, or American Sculpture by Oldenburg."

Why in the world is this funny? you ask. Or maybe you figured I'd cracked, and thought "That is not funny at all." But it is.

Puente Viesgo is a place. There are caves there, and there are lots and lots of old wall paintings of various and sundry animals.

This brings up the long debated library question: *cue Carly Simon music* Who does it better? Librarians or paraprofessionals? I can't do all the work. I can't be everywhere at once, and yet, it appears to be the curse of this profession: No delegation, No body does it better, I'm not sharing information because it makes me secretly valuable. Mine mine mine.

I waste a lot of time undoing things that were done incorrectly. Retyping letters, making new catalog entries, refiling, and leaving notes asking people to be a bit more careful. Now understand, in Academia Land, my paraprofessionals are students. In Public Library land, well, lets just say its a whole other ball of wax.

I can forgive students. Quite easily. My help may not have anything to do with Art History, or Art, or even know how to spell it. Often the students are from other departments working their way through undergrad. In public library land, well, lets just say its a whole other ball of wax.

The paraprofessional help is often put off by this nomenclature. Who can blame them? It breaks down to "along side, or near professionals" in English. I'm not sure I'd want to be a paralibrarian. I was a paraprofessional for several years before I got my MLIS at a very GenX age. At anyrate, these are the folks that I work with each day.

Today weeding came up. Can a paraprofessional do it? SURE! Should they order the collection too? Err, no. Librarians are viewed as leaders in Public Libraries. That power is often given to them by management or administration, or "higher powers"...and no, I don't mean G-d. Do we belittle ourselves and our worth by delegating to paraprofessionals? Or does the skill of delegation make this OK?

I get nervous in an age where Librarians are being replaced with LA's. Cheaper by the hour, easier to replace, and they never wave around their MLIS saying "but I have a Masters Degree." Which, sadly, is the feeling I've gotten from LA's about librarians.

My question is this: Where is the balance? There are plenty of LA's that I've known, worked with, or heard about who were amazingly competent, versatile, and library savvy. I've also worked with Librarians who are jaded, sloppy, and peevish.

I think the balance is in hiring strong people who work to support one another. A good LA and a good Librarian are hard things to argue about. The opposite: yeah. No one wants to work with them.

I'm still torn about how much responsibility can be given to a paraprofessional because I still worry that I could be replaced.

But then I remember the cave paintings by Puente Viesgo, and I feel much better.

Moral of this blog: its all in the details....or meta-data.....

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