As a substitute librarian for LAPL (Los Angeles Public Library) I go to different branches and often tell stories of my adventures at LAPL. It was suggested by some librarians, and others, that I should document these stories by writing my memoirs. That was the original purpose of this blog. Now, however, it’s branched off into other directions as well.
For more than 30 years I served time as a professional librarian with LAPL. Most of that time was at the Exposition Park Regional Branch (hereinafter referred to as “Expo”). I am retired now and I can speak freely.
Life behind a public library reference desk may not seem very exciting to write about. Yes, I could describe some interesting characters: e.g., the homeless man “A____” who, if you could get past the smell and the plastic bags he was surrounded with, would really astound you as an extremely intelligent person; some occasional unruly or even violent patrons, or some intriguing reference questions. The computer classes I enjoyed teaching and the chess club I started back in 1991 may also be of interest to some. Incidentally, this club continued until I retired in 2010 with only a few interruptions. It may very well have been the longest running successful library program in LAPL history.
But stories of greater interest involve interactions with library staff rather than library patrons; e.g., my inharmonious relationship with library administration and especially with the labor union representing LAPL librarians – Librarians Guild, AFSCME 2626.
Now, gratitude is a quality whose importance cannot be overstated. And I am, indeed, very grateful to the union for a decent salary – and for my current retirement package. Without the union’s negotiating power I doubt if these would have been achieved.
On the other hand, the union was the source of grief and contention for many years. Some of those issues may still exist in today’s workplace. Describing my experiences could benefit others facing similar problems today.