The Unclassifiable Library Remix

Friday, March 02, 2012

What To Do When The Power Goes Out

Yesterday was a rather interesting day at the library. After my usual Thursday morning of checking messages and news, resolving a few reserves and ILL problems, and manning the reference desk, I returned to my office looking forward to a productive afternoon. I had luckily already finished approving time sheets for my staff, and needed only to knock out my monthly report. Then I was going to work on interview questions for my column for the Journal of Access Services while logging in for my Second Life virtual office hours. That's when click the building went dark. At first I wonder whether the new automatic motion sensor lights all just cut off at once, but then it was clear from the lack of intergoogles that it was everything. It's amazing how much white noise you don't notice in a Library until it's absolutely silent. Students talking in whispers, no printers or copiers, no beeping of the barcode reader at the circulation desk - eerily quiet and yet a nostalgic moment as I reflected on how this must have been what libraries of old had for an atmosphere. It was rather nice. However, my productivity for the day seemed doomed. What can I work on without the Internet, word processing, basic computer functions - hell even the telephone goes down when the power is out.

So I brainstormed some things to do with no power:
  • File that stack of papers that has been multiplying like rabbits in the to file box
  • Dust - it's amazing how much dust accumulates around my printers and monitor
  • Organize - stuff just seems to pile up - on shelves, on tables, in files
  • Read some print library literature
  • Clean out the sorting room
  • Inspect the stacks
The thing I noticed is that I always know these things need to be done - and they are among those things that in my myriad of duties always seem to get delegated to the "when I have time" to do list. So I am given a prime opportunity of time unimpeded by electronics, and what did I do?
  • Got more coffee
  • Chatted with coworkers and staff about why the power might be out
  • Tried to see if wireless network would still work on phone
  • Lamented phone battery dying
  • Took a smoke break
  • Took rest of day off
For some reason, despite the chance to unplug and work in the way of librarians of old, I copped out and ran home to where I could plug in my laptop and continue working from there. It was worth taking the leave time, even though I still had to do work things, just so I could have power. I feel so lost without it. I can manage when I go camping, but when temptation is right there in front of me, I find it hard to resist.

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