“Hit the Road, Cath” or “Branchward Bound!”

16 Oct

I began to work at the Central Youth Wing of the Brooklyn Public Library sometime in August, 1998.  I can’t remember the exact date I started, but that’s of no consequence.  It works out, roughly, to 15 years and two months in a single location.  Hardly a 21st-career path, right?  Thursday is my last day.  I am still an employee of the good ol’ BPL, but I am moving into a new role, branch manager at our Williamsburgh Branch (You will encounter ‘Williamsburgh’ spelled either with or without the ‘h’ at the end.  My new colleagues seem to prefer retaining the ‘h’, and I personally find it historical and charming.  So ‘Williamsburgh’ it is).

The Williamsburg Branch in 1910 (Source: The Brooklyn Collection)

The Williamsburgh Branch in 1910, 88 years before I started working at BPL (Source: The Brooklyn Collection)

I have been trying to write this post for a week.  I believe I have erased what I’ve typed in around fifteen times, before starting all over again.  Fifteen years in one library.  That pre-dates Facebook and iPad apps, even Harry Potter (It’s true!  The Sorcerer’s Stone was first published in the U.S. in September, 1998.).  It makes one want to look back, reflect, and compose an eloquent treatise in defense of staying put (say, for 15 years), and crafting an argument that belies the career guidance you assume is routinely spooned out to new library school grads by their mentors and professors: change jobs every two years or so.

Then, when you have finally finished this first section of the essay (and WordPress shows that 600+ words have already been typed in) you will shift gears and dig into the second part of the post, the reasons why you are moving on.  And after that, there’s a third part, which synthesizes parts one and two, ending with a zinger in the final paragraph that simultaneously opens a fourth line of inquiry, which readers are invited to settle in the comments.

Here’s the thing: to get this post published, I cannot follow this plan.  I worked in one location for 15 years.  I was never bored, and I don’t believe I ever got set in my ways (except when the process was so perfect and clear that there was never a point in re-configuring it 🙂 ).

Now I am leaving and doing something new.  There are a plethora of reasons why, but I am not going to bore my dear readers with them.  I understand that I am in for many new experiences, but also that I am not completely without resources and foreknowledge.  This is what I know:

My new ride to work, the B44 bus.

My new ride to work, the B44 bus.

  1. I’ll be on a sizable learning curve while I adjust not only to a new location, but to how branches differ operationally from a Central Library.  Much advance thanks to my new colleagues.  You’re going to get sick of me asking questions.
  2. I will need to pay attention to adult services for the first time…ever.
  3. I won’t be responsible for ordering any longer, because while the Central Library does its own ordering, branch ordering is completely handled through our BookOps department.  Related: floating branch collections.
  4. My commute will be longer, which I am perversely looking forward to, because I’ll be able to read more.
  5. I have faith in myself as a supervisor, trainer, and mentor.
  6. I am a children’s librarian now and forever, and I will do my darnedest to keep up with providing those vital services.  Related: I won’t play favorites with you, but any children’s (and YA) librarians who work in my branch will never be treated, by virtue of your age speciality, like the poor red-headed stepchildren of the public library world.
  7. I am really looking forward to building Williamsburgh into a kickass branch.  I am organized, creative, and somewhat irreverent, and I will do all I can to lead my team into making this kickassedness a reality.  Related:  Am I also a little egotistical?  I’ll leave that to you to decide.


So here I am, all packed up and ready to roll.  Fifteen years.  Three totes (Which I’m actually disappointed about.  I thought for sure I would only need two.).  Stay posted.  It will be an adventure!

~Catherine (total number of words in this post, 707.)


3 Responses to ““Hit the Road, Cath” or “Branchward Bound!””


  1. Like a Boss: I had a great boss, now we have no staff | The Magpie Librarian: A Librarian's Guide to Modern Life and Etiquette - October 28, 2013

    […] thought that she was just the best ever. But then she left me. All by myself. All alone. Abandoned. The only living librarian in New […]

  2. Wake Up, Kitty Cats, and Look at Some Links | Z Before Y - November 15, 2013

    […] or any title from the  Diary of a Wimpy Kid oeuvre in the 3 1/2 weeks since I started at my new branch).   When I was in charge of purchasing children’s books for the Central Library, I came up […]

  3. Signs, Signs, Everywhere There’s Signs | Z Before Y - March 12, 2014

    […] I was firmly entrenched as a children’s librarian.  Then in October I made a transition and became a branch manager.  I still read a ton of children’s books, and while I have written a number of bookcentric […]

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