Friday, April 3, 2009

It's Only Rock and Roll (or How I Became a Librarian)

Workers from all of our university's libraries are competing for prizes which will be awarded during National Library Week (April 13-19). So far, we've had a Wii tournament, a spelling bee, a ping pong competition, and we're in the midst of an office door decorating contest which I really, really, really want to win.

I just noticed a mistake. It should read It's Only Rock and Roll BUT I Like It.

This picture doesn't do it justice, but my door looks really cool in person. As you can see, it's a collage of all my favorite rock musicians. I used 3-D mounting dots to make the letters and hearts "pop." Each of the paper hearts has a different rock-n-roll quote such as Rock and Roll Never Forgets, I Love Rock and Roll, So You Want to be a Rock and Roll Star, Rockin' in the Free World, and, of course, It's Only Rock and Roll (But I Like It).

Jett, Joan. I Love Rock 'n Roll. Los Angeles, Calif: Boardwalk Entertainment Co, 1981.

Featured musicians include Cracker, Patti Smith, The Ramones, Prince, Blondie, The Pretenders, Camper Van Beethoven, and Bruce Springsteen.
There are also photocopies of autographs from my collection: Bono (U2), Marty Wilson-Piper (The Church), Johnny Hickman (Cracker and The Dangers), Chris Frantz (Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club, and Gorillaz), Mike Peters (The Alarm).*
Talking Heads (Musical group). Little Creatures. New York: Sire, 1985.

You may be wondering what rock music has to do with National Library Week. Well, here's the story . . .

I graduated college earlier than I expected, and since I didn't have a career plan in place, I got a full-time job at the biggest and best record store in Connecticut and took a couple of grad school classes at Southern Connecticut State University. One of my good friends who was a grad student and library worker at Yale, suggested that I pursue a career in librarianship.

At first I thought she was nuts, but then she explained that all the aspects of record store work that I loved--organizing music (Does Joan Armatrading go in women's music, r&b, folk, or pop?) and hooking listeners up with music I know they will love--I could experience in a library setting. She also pointed out that libraries like to hire people with a basic knowledge of different foreign languages. (I majored in Spanish but I also took beginning German, Italian, and French classes. I can't read any Asian languages, but I can usually tell the alphabets apart.)

Armatrading, Joan. Me Myself I. Hollywood, Calif: A&M Records, 1980.

I was still skeptical, but I agreed to go to the library with her one day to meet her co-workers. Once I walked into the door of Yale's Sterling Memorial Library, I was hooked. It was like walking into a European cathedral. The librarians were incredibly nice and they even offered me a part-time clerical job!

So there you have it--the rock and roll/library connection. Wish me luck!

Havens, Richie, and Steven Davidowitz. They Can't Hide Us Anymore. New York: Spike, 1999.

*I've met other famous musicians--L.L. Cool J., Burning Spear, John Popper, Richie Havens, Taj Mahal--but at the time, I thought I was too cool to ask for their autographs. (Yeah, right!)