In-tents Librarians

R Hadden Writes:
The Wall Street Journal has an item on today\'s front
page (Tuesday,
August 29, 2000) in the \"Work Week\" column, about a
library.
\"Inspiration hit Charles \"Duke\" Oakley one day as he
cruised past a
Cirque du Soleil big top. Mr. Oakley, then facilities
director for the
University of California at Los Angeles, decided a tent
would make a fine
temporary library. So the school built a
36,000-square-foot vinyl fabric
affair, complete with aluminum skeleton, lights and fire
sprinklers....
UCLA\'s Mr. Oakley, now in private practice, ...misses
the temporary
library since it was taken down. \"It was a little festive,
and it was a
little unusual,\" he says.\"`

There is no indication of when this event
happened, nor any comments
from the library staff about library concerns such as
insect control or
humidity levels or potential for vandalism. On the other hand (Very Big Grin), there are no
comments about how, in
this circus big top atmosphere, the staff and patrons
clowned around.
Instead of the Dewey Decimal System, did they
temporarily arrange books by
circus rings, with the chief cataloger being the
ringmaster? Was the budget
director the one on the balancing trapeze act? Chief
librarian the lion
tamer? The reference section the side show of freaks
and marvels? The
circulation section the \"little red wagon,\" aka the ticket
counter? Is the
Systems/Telecommunications Librarian the \"high wire
act?\" The serials
librarians the equestrian and bareback riders,
desperately trying to keep
their charges (either journals or wild horses) tamed
and in series and in
correct sequence so the riders can jump through
hoops as they gallop madly
around? Was the human resources chief the one
everyone else wants to shoot
out of the cannon? Are the re-shelving staff the elephant
handlers, trying
over and over to keep the big animals balanced on their
all four feet on a
too-small upturned tub, and cleaning up the \"overflow\"
residue from the
elephants? The acquisitions librarian the stage
magician, pulling books or
rabbits out of a hat, and no one else knows how it is
done? Is the library
night shift/weekend supervisor the circus fire eater,
accepting
undergraduate complaints and freshman suggestions
for improvement of
database selections with aplomb? Are the student
assistants the circus
roustabouts, hammering in the stakes when needed to
keep the library tight?

Were the library users known as \"rubes\" or \"boys
and girls of all
ages?\" This sheds new light on the old argument over
whether library users
should be called \"patrons\" or \"customers\" or \"clients\" or
whatever.


Oh well, enough of the circus jokes. Now its back to
the usual
carnival.


Lee Hadden

Syndicate content