Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Meredith Myers Performs Her First Stand-Up Act About Libraries

After having spent the past year and a half focused on finishing my Master's degree and trying to get hands-on experience in libraries, I returned to the comedy stage last night to perform at "Improvised Stand-Up Night" held at Second City in Hollywood. The five-minute set was probably one of the most nerve-racking experiences I've had in awhile since the rules stated that I could not prepare material ahead of time and instead had to rely on audience suggestions. While that may have been true, I did have the power to lead the audience in a direction of my choosing, so I thought it was the perfect time to test the waters on some library-based comedy material, which I had been wanting to try for years but could never take my academic hat off long enough to find the funny in what has become my passion and advocacy project. While this set is short and off the top of my head, I hope this is the beginning of an awesome stand-up set devoted to my passion for libraries that will eventually not only help show their necessity in the world, but offer an example to why funny people like me should also be working in them. Sometimes you just have to laugh, right? And yes, the pervert with the mirror joke was based on a true incident that happened while I was interning at the Los Feliz Public Library. Enjoy, and of course, feel free to laugh too…

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Circus that is Meredith's First Library Interview

“All eyes on me in the center of the ring just like a circus
When I crack that whip, everybody gon' trip just like a circus
Don't stand there watching me, follow me, show me what you can do”

- Britney Spears, “Circus”



I can't believe I am quoting a Britney Spears song but the past couple of weeks have been quite the circus, as I went on my first-ever library interview and celebrated my birthday by trying a class in the flying trapeze.

But first, the interview.

I had applied on the City of Santa Monica website back in September when I saw a listing for a PT Reference Librarian 1. It was perfect for me. Entry-level and part-time, which meant I was free the rest of the week to plan programs and performances for the library, write my book, and I would finally have health benefits for the first-time in seven years. I spent three hours meticulously reading over every single page of the application, making sure I had filled it out correctly with no errors. The only part that seemed confusing was that they wanted proof of my diploma, so since I couldn’t find a place to attach it online, I sent a separate email with a jpeg attached. Shortly after, I received the “we have received your application” confirmation email and breathed a sigh of relief. Now all I could do was wait and hope to get a call for an interview.

Just one week later, the Mayor of Santa Monica, Bobby Shiver, comes into the restaurant where I work, and immediately thoughts of meeting him go through my head. I pray he gets seated in my section. He doesn’t. Still, not one to give up, I asked the server who was taking him if she needed helping serving the sake to his table. Any chance to have some kind of interaction with the man, who could perhaps have an influence on me getting an interview for the job at the library, was worth it. After all, it is a city job, so wouldn’t a reference from the mayor be a real bonus?

After introducing myself as a librarian waiting tables to make ends meet, not to mention hitting on some important library issues that need addressing, he hands me his card and asks that I send my resume to him on Monday morning. He liked my energy and thought I would be a great addition to the library. All weekend I am flying high at the thought that this time things were falling into place for me. Per his instructions, I sent an email Sunday night attaching my resume, cover letter, completed application, and list of references. At 10:30am Monday morning, his office calls saying they received the email and have forwarded it along to the right people. Wow, a politician following through on a promise – a true miracle if I ever saw one.

Sadly, not an hour later, I receive an email from the HR Dept saying “It has been determined that your application cannot be accepted because it is incomplete or missing required materials.” WHAT? I didn’t understand. Were they offended I got the Mayor involved? Did they not get my email with the diploma? And, how could they just dismiss my application without first trying to fix what was wrong? Ugghhhhh! So I reply to the email, leave a polite voicemail, and hope this is not it. I felt so powerless.

Two minutes later, I get another email, this time from the City Manager saying he got an email from the Mayor and that I am doing the right thing in applying through Human Resources. After wishing me well, he gives me the name of the HR director should I have any further questions. Since I had not heard back from the HR Dept in regards to what was wrong with my application, I decide to call this new person and see if she can help me learn what the problem is with my application. Sure enough, they didn’t get the email.

So, I forward it again, proving I sent the email before the application deadline, and within minutes, I get the much happier email, “Congratulations! You have successfully passed the application review process for the position of Librarian I (Reference). I'm pleased to invite you to the oral interview.”

One minute I am a loser, the next, I am a winner – all because I decided to follow up with a phone call. A real lesson that if you want something, you go after it, no matter what.

In preparation for my oral interview the following week, I read every paper I ever wrote in my Masters program, reviewed articles online, and spoke with numerous library friends about what to expect during the interview process. Never in my life have I studied so hard for a job interview. I also tried on numerous outfits, revamped my portfolio of work, and even double-checked this blog to make sure nothing was too offensive for the library board should they come across it. I felt I was ready.

The morning of the interview, I walked into the library an hour early just to review sample questions and to make sure I was calm and presentable. I walked into the interview ready to blow them away with everything that made me the unique librarian I knew I was. No way would they not want to hire me – I wanted it too much.

The two women who opened the doors to the conference room, instantly stretched out their hands in formality, before sitting down behind names which were displayed boldly on place cards with black Sharpie pen. I bit my tongue so I wouldn’t crack a joke. It was like that scene in “Back to School” where Rodney Dangerfield has to recite poetry in front of the entire teaching staff in order to graduate. Pressure was on.

Immediately they explained that they would be asking me questions and taking notes on my answers. And that is exactly how it went for the next half-hour. Question. Answer. Notes. Question. Answer. Notes. At the end, I tried to show them some of my work displayed colorfully in my binder, but one somewhat laughed and said, “I wondered why you brought all of that,” and looked toward the door out of disinterest or anxiety at the thought of more interviews with idiots like me.

I felt stupid and realized for the first time that perhaps my personality wasn’t going to be the selling point in this line of work. If they were going to follow protocol and policy, there probably wasn’t much room for creative innovators like me, who not only thought out of the box, we stood on it with fabulous shoes. For once, I was told not to ask questions about the job, but instead, told to deal directly with the HR department, of which later, they didn’t have much to say either.

One week later, and I was in Las Vegas celebrating my birthday by going to see the Cirque Du Soliel show O at the Belliagio. I had wanted to see the show for years because of all of the synchronized swimming, which I loved doing as a child. While watching the performers on the trapeze swing freely in the air, before jumping off into the water, I felt a smile come to my face. Things were working out. My hard work was paying off. Life was going to start making sense again.

The next morning, I checked my email and there it was again “Congratulations! You successfully passed the oral interview for the position of Librarian I (Reference). Your final score is 87.0. You have been placed in band 3.” To which I screamed excitedly, until I realized I had no idea what any of that meant. Band 3? I wasn’t a musician, I was a librarian, but I was no dummy, being 3rd didn’t sound good at all.

After another email to HR, I realized that I had no reason to celebrate. I wasn’t being called in for an interview until the candidates in Bands 1 and 2 were exhausted and that wasn’t going to happen when so many experienced, out-of-work librarians were probably in Band 1 and 2 because they have been librarians for 10+ years and like robots, knew how to answer questions about what to tell a patron when the library no longer carried their favorite magazine.

The real question was what to tell a hopeful, ambitious, and creative wannabe librarian, working as a server for the fifteen time, that with four years of stellar grades in a Masters degree, a year of working for free as an intern and volunteer, and even an endorsement from the frickin’ Mayor, that her dream of becoming a librarian was once again smashed to bits for some reason or another.

I don’t have an answer for that one either.

While I was down about not getting the library job, I still had my birthday to celebrate, so I decided to go down to the Santa Monica Pier to take a trapeze class with TSNY Los Angeles, an idea I had come up with when I found a coupon in the reference section at the library during one of my study sessions. None of my friends had wanted to do it, so like most things in my life, I once again did it alone. For some reason, I was sad this time. Maybe it was not getting the library job, or not celebrating with my ex like I had the last three years, or maybe it was because I felt helpless and confused at what my life had become.

When I was high above Santa Monica with that trapeze bar in my hand, I thought about the journey it took to get me there. I thought of all of my failures, my successes, my dreams, the love I felt for people that didn’t love me back. I thought of having 92 jobs and wondering how that came to be – was it me settling for things, or me failing and being too afraid of the things I really wanted. I thought of the person I was, the person I wanted to be, the person everyone thought I should be.

Nah, I didn’t think of any of that.

My only thought was just how awesome it was way up there, and how glad I was that I didn’t let anybody else’s BS prevent me from doing it, including my own.

Then I jumped.

Nothing mattered but the wind on my face, the chill in the air, and my instructor’s voice telling me what to do. By following her directions and trusting the wire hooked tightly to my waist, I felt free for the first time in years. Unlike life, there was a massive net beneath me should I fall, not to mention a good looking guy ready to catch me when I finally let go of that bar. It took strength to orchestrate some of the moves, but it mostly took concentration and faith.

On landing, I squealed in delight like a girl of thirteen, not thirty-six. It was a moment of pure joy. I had forgotten what life was like before the whole world got involved and made it complicated. Before I made myself the ringleader in my own personal circus, inviting all of you in to watch the show that is my life. Yet here I am, doing it again.

I might not be the one who always gets the job, but I just might be the one to show you what is possible if you aren’t afraid to put yourself out there and jump.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Meredith Interviews Comedian Paula Poundstone about Libraries


While attending the American Library Association's National Conference in Washington DC this summer, I jumped at the chance to speak with comedy legend Paula Poundstone about her love of libraries. As this blog was created in order to combine my two loves - comedy and librarianship - she turned out to be the perfect subject for my first-ever celebrity interview to be featured on this blog. Paula is not only a great advocate for the library field, she is still one of the best stand-up comics of all time, which is obvious as she delivers some hilarious library material of her own. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Go See Cal, Go See Cal, Go See Cal...



One of my favorite aspects of librarianship is assisting senior citizens with the numerous services available to them at their local public library. Learning how to use the computer is one example, as seniors are often scared of technology and find that having a librarian nearby to hold their hand, helps generate new knowledge as well as greater confidence. Recently, I also helped a senior citizen that was in need of some handholding and while we weren’t at the local library, I still felt I should offer the same service.

I was attending a fashion event at a swanky Los Angeles hotel with my two bosses, and it was there that I met the sweetest old man wearing a ten-gallon hat and cowboy-style shirt, with a somewhat matching tie. He seemed very out of place, especially with the fashion police already on assignment at the party. I kind of felt bad for the guy, so when he asked if I wanted to sit at the bar and have a drink, I figured why not (even though I was already holding a full beverage.) Maybe he wasn’t wearing his glasses? Maybe he needed my assistance to find the barstool? I was a librarian. I had to help.

Already the fashionistas in attendance were staring and laughing at this Texan and his wannabe Carrie Bradshaw, this version being the star of “No Sex in the City.” I hadn’t been out on the town in a long time and certainly not in a short dress with heels, complete with a black ribbon tied around my ponytail. I was trying a new look - one that was working too well, as I was already square dance material for a cowboy wanting to “do si do.”

The man was like 90 - in age and in temperature. He was hot, and not the good kind. By the smell of him, he must have just come from a hard day at the ranch. I tried not to judge. Often the homeless come to the library to find sanctuary and have access to the free materials, so couldn’t this nice man come to the bar smelling like a cow pie? So what if he needed some Brut, he deserved to get drunk just like everybody else.

To avoid thinking about his odor, I tried to make conversation. “So, you come to these parts often?” Why I suddenly phrased sentences like a country bumpkin is still a mystery.

“What?” he said, tapping his hearing aide, then placing his hand on my thigh, as if that was going to make my words more clear.

“I’m a librarian!” I shrieked, startled by his wrinkly hand on my H & Mmm, thinking the answer might revolt him enough to remove his hand by sheer respect of a profession dedicated to gathering information, not sexual favors.

“I used to go to the library as a kid. I like books,” he said, while tapping my thigh rapidly like he was giving the SOS signal from the sinking Titanic. “I also like young girls…”

And that’s how the night would go. Him tapping my thigh, me repeating myself loudly, over and over, each time trying to offer information that I was more pen pal, than play pal, all while my one boss laughed at me from across the bar, taking pictures on his Blackberry. I guess the joke was on all of us. The man turned out to be Cal Worthington, a multi-millionaire that was on TV for years promoting his numerous car dealerships with the famous slogan “Go see Cal, go see Cal, go see Cal,” while doing cheesy stunts like standing on an airplane wing while in flight or putting his head in a tiger’s mouth. Being from the east coast, I had no idea, nor did I really care. I just mistakenly thought he was a nice man, looking for some company in a city that is often cruel. Boy, was the joke on me. Or was it?

The next day at work, my boss waved his Blackberry around and thought he was suddenly the comedian of the office, until I told him the old dude was actually a rich dude on TV commercials. Suddenly, he started to sing the TV slogan and do a little dance, of which he would annoyingly do for the rest of the day. My other boss, a suave, good-looking Ralph Lauren-type, suggested I call the hotel to “see how he was doing.” He knew I was getting over a breakup and thought it would be fun for me.

I had to admit I was curious, and couldn’t believe my ears when Cal answered the phone and invited me to dinner that same night. I was excited about finally eating something other than celery sticks, and began to wonder if I was perhaps being too hard on a lonely man. Maybe it was the Mercedes in my eyes, but I was flattered he remembered me at all, especially with all of the arm candy available in the bar. My boss immediately insisted I get out of my “flight attendant” outfit and put on the mini dress again.

The following are a few snippets of Cal’s best “one-liners” throughout the evening, along with some library services offered to senior citizens:

1. Libraries offer many fun activities for seniors including Scrabble and Book Clubs.

Cal: “We are going to Spago, is that okay? Wait. Can I take you to dinner tomorrow night instead? I actually have an appointment tonight…unless that appointment is with you?”

Apparently the guy overbooks his dates often and can’t remember which girl he is taking out, which I guess if a fun game to play if you are the one he finally chooses. When I remind him that he invited me out to dinner and told me to meet him at the bar, he decides that I am his appointment after all. So if you want to feel like your night is going to get worse before it gets better - Go see Cal, go see Cal, go see Cal!

2. Did you know that often seniors are homebound and therefore rely on library services that deliver directly to their homes?

Cal: “Is your car in valet? You can drive. I don’t really know where my car and driver is.”

The guy owns numerous Mercedes and Ford dealerships, yet I am driving my rented Kia from Enterprise-Rent-A-Car to the ultra-trendy Spago. So if you want to drive your crappy rental car to a fancy dinner in Beverly Hills - Go see Cal, go see Cal, go see Cal!

3. Often seniors are unable to read regular printed materials therefore the large print section of the library is quite popular.

Cal: “I forgot my glasses. Do they have glasses so I can read the menu? Hey, how about some more champagne? Wait, how about a kiss first!”

The guy thinks I am going to kiss him as some kind of toast before sipping my glass of champagne. Even with his borrowed glasses he should be able to see that isn’t happening - ever! So if you want to get your cheek brushed by lips older than the Hollywood sign - Go see Cal, go see Cal, go see Cal!

4. Senior citizens are actually some of the most active library users.

Cal: “I would like it very much if you would escort me back to my hotel room and stay the night.”

Dessert hadn’t even been served and Cal is pretty clear about the one item that he wants that is NOT listed on the Spago menu. So if you want to feel like a cheap whore after eating your first real meal in over two months - Go see Cal, go see Cal, go see Cal!

5. Seniors can find a variety of information at the library in regards to health and wellness too.

“I don’t know how good I would be anyway, especially after having these two glasses of champagne.”

Obviously, I turned him down so if you didn’t get a clear picture of what he hoped would happen in the hotel room, well, you sure as heck don’t need glasses to see it now! So if you have no respect for yourself and want to land an old rich dude - Go see Cal, go see Cal, go see Cal!

Cal's famous TV spot:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOsLdT4slsk

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Here I Go Again



I’ve hesitated for years to do a blog because I just don’t have the...dicsilpline...disipline...discipline! See? I can’t even spell the word!!!! Anyway, my point is that I am now going a month without writing on this and I feel terrible because I know all four of you out there must be freaking out because the last time I wrote I was sleeping on couches and exhausting myself with two jobs, praying that a stupid keychain I bought ten years ago was going to be some motivator to make my dreams come true. Maybe you were wondering – what happened to that girl that was supposed to be funny on this blog and has instead turned out to be a real downer? Did she have to sell her laptop in order to buy more celery sticks? Or, maybe she ran out of couches to sleep on and ended up homeless on the street, her dirty, calloused hands still gripping that Tiffany keychain tightly as one last reminder of her dream of librarianship?

Well, you can breathe deeply again, the good news is that I am sleeping in my own bed in my new apartment that I have been living in for the past several weeks. The not-so-good news is that I am still exhausting myself with no days off from my two jobs, plus I now have to spend up to a half-hour every night just trying to find a parking space in my new neighborhood which is filled with taco trucks and broken down cars that mostly take up the street parking. Don’t get me started on the guy that drives the ice cream truck around and around the block every night at 8:30pm blaring that annoying music to irritate all of us without kids or a need for sugar before bedtime. Seriously, if there is a better birth control than this truck, I don’t know what it is.

Yes, I am still in search of a library job and have applied to several but of which I have been turned down by all. My first rejection came from the University of Southern California, which is BS because I am good friends with two people who went there – one of which who can’t keep a job and the other works in porn…OK, maybe I don’t want to work there, after all. But seriously, I applied for a Reference and Instructional Librarian position that would “develop and provide information resources and expertise with an emphasis on communication, journalism, and other disciplines in the social sciences and humanities as assigned.” I have ten years working in PR, how could I not at least get called in for an interview for this one? PR stands for Public Relations – communicating with the pubic through the use of journalists – not even your new Reference and Instructional Librarian needs to look that up - jeez.

Well, at least they sent an email saying they didn’t want me, something the Art Institute of California – Hollywood couldn’t even manage to do. Here’s a library job that wanted a librarian with fashion experience. Hilarious! Try finding another librarian that was the Director of PR for Vivienne Tam and has attended numerous high-profile runway shows in NYC (and sat front row, mind you, right next to Anna Wintour! OK, a few seats over, but still.) Plus, I am currently working for Lloyd Klein Couture, the only Parisian couture designer in Los Angeles!!! How could they not want me???? But nope, not even an email thanking for me for my submission. I am literally receiving emails from students from this very school wanting to come intern with us and yet my librarian application didn’t impress anyone over there in the HR dept. Who the hell is looking over these applications? Some girl from “The Hills” putting her name on yet another dress made out of jersey material?

Oh and over a month ago, I spent two hours applying for a children’s librarian job at the Burbank Public Library – what a process! I was sitting on my friend’s balcony, mooching off her neighbor’s wireless, all the while praying that each time I submitted information into the online application (that apparently couldn’t be saved) that the Internet wouldn’t suddenly go out with me losing everything. The big surprise at the end of the application was the five questions that I wasn’t the least bit prepared to answer. Questions like:

1. Describe the materials and other components (songs, fingerplays, etc.) you would use for a storytime about colors for toddlers age two and under.
2. List three books you would booktalk to the 4th/5th Grade Book Club. Choose one and write a short (approximately 100 words) original booktalk.
3. Describe any experience you have had working with children under age five and how it helped prepare you for this job.
4. Describe any experience you have had managing unruly preteens. What would you do if a group of five 13-year-olds was talking and laughing loudly, throwing paper at each other and disturbing other patrons in the library?

I tried so very hard not to write jokes about my ex-boyfriend for question #3 but I was so exhausted and at the end of my rope that I almost jumped from that balcony just so I would never have to fill out another job application ever again…but I didn’t. I answered them in nice, complete sentences like a true professional that really wants a job.

But I guess I didn’t get this one either, so if I was going to answer #3 the way that I wanted to…

“I’ve actually got years of experience in working with children under age five as I recently dated one! As I look back, I am so glad that I can now utilize that experience for this job as a children’s librarian. For example, in dating HIM:

• I always had to dress him before we left the house – therefore, have experience with helping children put on shoes and coats after storytime;
• I always had to remind him to lock the car doors every time we got out (even when the car was filled with computers and luggage while on a trip) – therefore, have experience with patience as a result of having to constantly repeat the same words over and over again even though the children aren’t listening;
• And speaking of trips, I always planned every trip, outing, dinner, date, we ever went on – therefore, have experience coordinating storytime activities with special holiday-themed events. Can even bake cookies and do fun birthday scavenger hunt with hundreds of dollars worth of gifts which you didn’t seem to appreciate even though it took a week to plan you motherf….(sorry I got off track there for a sec – hee hee);
• I always had to pick out my own birthday and Xmas gifts since according to him, he was ‘not good at giving gifts’ (he also bought my Valentine’s Day flowers at a gas station so I guess he was also cheap) – so very experienced with purchasing storytime craft supplies within a tight library budget;
• And lastly, in dating HIM, when playtime was over, I always had to clap hands and act like he did good – therefore, EXTREMELY EXPERIENCED in make believe!”


Wow, that felt good – and apparently I have more experience than I thought in working with kids! OK, I joke, I joke. Seriously, I haven’t thought about HIM in weeks. I don’t even say his name since I just don’t care anymore – it is not worth my time – which is rarely free these days. When you are busy and moving forward in your life, it doesn’t really matter what you aren’t getting or whom you aren’t being with. I decided the moment I moved into my new place to start exercising my full attention into the people and projects that are in my life NOW, and stop putting so much energy into things that were out of my control.

Sure, I was bummed that I didn’t get some of these jobs but I got over it because I had other people who did see my talent and wanted to pay me for it. That is not to say that I don’t want certain things for my future – a librarian job would be great but so would my own talk show or a regular gig on Conan’s new show (putting it out into the universe, people, it couldn’t hurt). The point is, I don’t know where I am going but I sure know where I have been - wait, I think that is a Whitesnake song - boy, am I cheesy at 1am! Anyway, things are good and I pray that things keep getting better - OK now that’s a Christina Aguilera song...wow, I am going downhill fast. Apparently I need sleep – goodnight people. And yes, “to walk along the lonely street of dreams, and here I go again on my own…”

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Believe

So I have been away from this thing for almost two weeks. I’m not one for excuses so I’ll just fill you in on what you’ve missed. Me on a plane back to Los Angeles. No place to live. No full-time job to work. No car to drive. No money to spend. Me sleeping on couches with nothing but hopes and dreams and probably a ton of delusion that this time will be different from when I left eight months ago to finish this Masters degree to be a librarian. My parents wanted to me to stay in Florida while I looked for work – they thought a supportive environment would be helpful - I knew better than to fall for that. It’s when you put it all on the line that you prevail.

I won’t bore you with the heartache that is in LA as well – my ex has moved on to dating someone ten years younger than me, yet my stuff still consumes the house we lived in together that he probably brings her to. How LA, right? So, instead of just moving forward, I have to constantly deal with the past, which is the toughest part in all of this – the emotional garbage that fills the trash can that was that life. Well, that and the lack of library jobs available right now. After working for free in libraries for the last year as an intern and a volunteer hoping to impress someone enough to get them to then hire me, I find I was na├»ve in thinking they had the power.

The library field is not PR – I can’t talk my way into this one, ignoring all no’s until people just do what I want them to do out of pure exhaustion. The library field is not acting – I can’t just turn in a headshot and hope I have the right look for the part. The library field is not stand-up comedy – I can’t just win over the audience by a killer impression or a witty punch line. The library application process is ‘legal’ and ‘by the book’ – which frustrates me and makes me feel hopeless since my personality is usually what sells, not my resume (regardless of how good I think it looks.) Plus, the process is long. You sometimes have two months to submit applications and then another two months for the committee to interview the candidates.

Who has time for this? I do – because I am making ME a priority again.

Everything has changed. I have changed. I am certainly smarter – the Masters degree is an example of that – but I am stronger in ways I never knew I could be. I want to work harder than I ever have in my life – and I have worked pretty hard over the years. I want to do whatever I can to make my dreams come true, not depending on anyone for anything. I am no longer someone who thinks I am entitled to anything – not a couch, not a job, not a friend. And that has made all of the difference. I no longer have high expectations for others, just for myself. Plus I smile more now. I am amazed just how much I smile – even when there is nothing but obstacles in my way or insensitive jerks that won’t let me sleep on my own couch. Maybe it is because I am happier or maybe it is just because there is no place to go but up. So this time, I know I will succeed.

And I already have.

In one week, I have worked every single day, while securing two additional jobs and applying for twenty more, should those fall through. I have had friends open the doors to their small apartments to allow me to sleep on their couches while at the same time lending an ear when I have a moment of doubt. And just so we are clear, a moment of self-pity is all I allow. I don’t have the time for anything more.

I am very sorry that nothing about this post is about the field of librarianship or making you laugh but since my mission with this blog is to offer you insight into the journey that is my life, I had to share it with you.

One last thing…

I started my first PR job in NYC ten years ago on July 10, 2000 – a decision that changed the direction of my life forever – but that is a whole other blog. I celebrated by buying a hundred dollar keychain at Tiffany, where I had the date and the word ‘Believe’ engraved on it. I wanted a reminder that my dream of moving to NYC was an example that anything is possible, even when the odds seem like they are against you. What people don’t realize is that I have always been a librarian, with or without the degree. For years, I have utilized the free information that surrounds all of us – using it to survive, reassess my dreams, and reinvent myself, all while trying to remaining hopeful in a world that sometimes seems lost. I’ve carried that ‘Believe’ keychain for ten years but have forgotten to look at it. Till now…

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Meredith Goes to Capitol Hill to Fight For Our Libraries

While in Washington, D.C. attending the American Library Association (ALA) 2010 Annual Conference, I joined my fellow librarians on Capitol Hill for a rally in honor of Library Advocacy Day. I also interviewed Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and learned what people can do to help save their libraries from budget cuts. Happy 4th of July America - God Bless Librarians!!!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

How the ALA kicked my A$$ Into Shape


I’ve been home from the ALA national conference for two full days and I can’t bring myself to do a thing but catch up on season two of “True Blood” from NetFlix. The conference sucked the life out of me faster than Eric Northman on pretty fangbanger. I have no idea how to recover. Never have I ever been more overwhelmed by literature. Forget AA, I need ALA-A. My name is Meredith, and I am an American Library Association addict.

Before leaving Florida, I had developed a schedule outlining each and every meeting, workshop, and author signing that I had an interest in attending. There was little time for bathroom breaks or lunches, which was probably a big mistake but I was determined to make the best of it and secure myself a job. My email to the ALA career counselor had returned saying that she was already booked, so now I had to add ‘Stalk career counselor by hanging around job placement center for chance run-in’ on the schedule, which was really putting a time crunch on the “Dewey the Library Cat” author signing. I secretly hoped people were over that cat by now and could therefore knock out that signing in minutes. Oh the stress! Cute cat in library vs. me getting career advice that I so desperately need. What to do?

So I stupidly went for the cat book but was first in line and was then able to stalk the career counselor for the extra twenty minutes I had originally blocked out for cat lady. Career counselor was nice but didn’t say anything of real importance so probably a waste of time. That, or I talked too much again and can’t remember what she advised me to do. Dangitt! Make note - don’t need career counselor, need muzzle.

Since I was already in the ALA Job Placement Center, I decided to try and speak with the seven recruiters who looked bored off their asses in their booths. Wow, how unprofessional of me. Did I not learn anything from the counselor? I meant to say, who all looked leisurely and welcoming in their career stations. Another waste of time - nobody was hiring entry-level librarians! If that wasn’t bad enough, they seemed upset that we were the only people who seemed to be inquiring! Gee, I wonder why. Maybe because most of the upper management had jobs that could afford to send them to DC for the conference, which they instead used to go on Dan Brown’s “The Lost Symbol” tour thus skipping the conference entirely.

Not to worry, I did get plenty of “I would happy to take your resume and put it on file.” Can we stop saying this, people? There is no file. You know it. We know it. Besides, we are just killing more trees by all of this pretending. For once I wish someone would just say, “Go back to waiting tables, you’d have better luck.” Then I wouldn’t have to continue to carry my heavy work portfolio around in my trendy briefcase in the hopes that someone would be interested in looking over my bookmarks tied to Banned Book Week or my table display ideas for sexy seniors. Let’s just say I got more compliments on the hat I was wearing than I did on the head full of library knowledge that was wearing it. Don’t get me wrong. I am all about fashion, but how cool is my hat going to be when I am wearing it on the streets mumbling cataloguing codes or classifying my shopping cart full of free books. I need a job!

I don’t want to place all the blame of my exhaustion and insanity on the free books given away in the exhibit hall or the lack of leads from the placement center, as I’m sure there were certainly other reasons. Specifically, my diet of iced coffee and carrot sticks. After spending the week before in NYC, where I was eating everything in sight, I felt a real need to ignore the overpriced, unimpressive edibles available to us at the conference center and instead hit Whole Foods to fill my backpack with healthy alternatives that included celery, grape tomatoes, and a small container of hummus. The daily workout of carrying twenty pounds of books from the expo to the Metro and up a steep hill to my friend’s apartment also helped with my cardio and weight training, which is why I was able to drop any weight I gained in NYC in no time at all.

Now I am only an out-of-work librarian, so please check with your doctor before you starve yourself for free books, but I say look at the positives, people. I may not have a job but I am looking better than ever – thanks ALA!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Meredith Attends Her First ALA Conference

So as a recent graduate, the only thing on my mind is getting a job, therefore, I decided to attend the American Library Association’s National Conference in Washington DC, hoping to make the contacts to land me that job.

On arrival at the Washington Convention Center at around 3pm today, I was amazed just how many librarians were already wandering around with nametags fastened to button-down shirts. I was wearing my ‘I love my public library’ t-shirt with black leggings, Panama Jack hat cocked to the side, and in no time one of my fellow librarians said how much she loved my outfit. Thank God, since I was actually concerned with being a bit too over-the-top in the skintight lycra, but the weather in DC was brutal and I wanted to be comfortable when walking blocks to and from the Metro. I had brought more professional attire for the rest of the weekend but wanted to scout the territory first and get my bearings incognito, which now as I think about it, I probably wasn’t.

I attended ‘Conference 101’ hosted by NMRT (New Members Round Table) and I have to admit that I was slightly bored with all the jargon about why we should be a member of this or that. Listen, I get that the speakers want to prepare the new librarians for what to expect at the conference when it comes to all the workshops and meetings but I need a job, okay? And until that time comes, this librarian needs you to speak about the things that really matter - where’s the free food? And how can one carry so much swag in a cheaply-made book bag with straps that couldn’t hold one of Meyer’s Twilight books, let alone the twenty no-name authors I will insist on picking up because they are free?

And that is exactly what happened. At 5:15pm on the dot, 5,000 librarians (most with jobs who don’t need free stuff to make their trip to the conference mean something) were all waiting for the exhibit hall to open to consume any and all that was free. Never have I seen such chaos. Well, maybe at that Jimmy Choo sample sale in NYC but this was pretty close to that. Librarians were like linebackers pulling luggage on wheels, all racing towards Random House or Scholastic displays where books were stacked in towers, free for the taking if you could get close enough to get a hand on one.

At first I was reserved. I held back. I was afraid. Very afraid. I knew how heavy my luggage was in trying to get it to DC, so did I really want to add more weight with a few books that I would probably never read? YES!

At first I just took some teen titles since that will probably be my area of librarianship. Tom Sawyer and Zombies – heck yeah! Che Guevara manga? Bring it on! I was getting excited. These titles were pretty cool. Next thing I knew I was picking up a book about finding love in your 50’s. And as a fan of The Wonder Years, I just had to have Winnie Cooper’s new math book (Danica McKellar’s Hot Algebra Exposed!) STOP. What are you doing? You still have to take this load of freebies on the Metro and walk up a hill. Slow down. You have been at the conference a whole three hours. Relax. There are four days to go. You have Toni Morrison. Amy Sedaris. John Grisham.

I guess this is the reason I am a librarian. I do love books. Free books. And you could too, if you want to help me carry these home. Or just go to your local public library. Although, maybe next year I’ll bring one of those wheelie things…

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Meredith Smells Teen Spirit at the Palm Harbor Library

When I think back to my days of being a teen, I think of Nirvana. It was 1991 and they had just come on the scene with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and everybody who was anybody had this CD. I would walk around high school with my black leather motorcycle jacket from Contempo Casuals trying to put up the front that I was a real badass, when in reality I was on the honor roll and played the French horn in the school marching band.

When you are a teen, there are many things that you want to be with no idea how to be them, so the library can act as a sanctuary and experimental space for many teens looking to discover who they are in an environment without judgment from parents, teachers or other adult figures. However, while most libraries have designated children’s and adult sections, often teenagers are left without a space to call their own.

At the Palm Harbor Library, Library Director Gene Coppola helped renovate an older section of the library to build a glass-enclosed retro-style area called The Teen Place, where teens can enjoy everything from computers to manga to playing games on the Wii, all while relaxing on a custom-made booth. As if that wasn’t enough, they can also graffiti the walls or play Guitar Hero, but the coolest part? No adults allowed!

So "Come As You Are" and join me as Gene takes us on a private tour of The Teen Space - no ID required!



For more information about The Teen Place at Palm Harbor Library, please visit http://www.tblc.org/phl/library/teens.html

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Book Slot is to the Left



It has been a whole week since our big Memorial Day Blow Out at the library and I am still exhausted at the thought of it. No, there wasn’t a gigantic book sale consumed with endless donated copies of “Twilight” (who hasn't read this thing?) But get this - we had an actual shooting...with guns…at the library! Thank Dewey it was Memorial Day and the library was closed so no patrons or book carts were harmed. But for Carnegie’s sake, who in the Harry Potter thinks it’s cool to celebrate a holiday remembering war heroes by then shooting out the glass doors of the local public library?

Dear Idiot that shot my library,

Oh I get it, my display table of Memorial Day materials was taunting you through the locked doors and you just had to get that copy of “Widow of the South” before your friend’s barbeque. Or maybe you just had to return that “Blades of Glory” DVD before you were charged a late fee of 35 cents. Listen tough guy, the book slot is located on the left, and while times might be tough right now, there’s no Civil War happening out here in this quiet retirement community, so you going all gangster on a branch library with like four slow computers and a broken air conditioner in the conference room, isn’t going to make anybody think you are some version of John Dillinger.

Instead, you are going to look like a big moron because you just went all barbaric on your own house. That’s right – the library is your home too. Unlike those trendy clubs that can enforce the whole velvet rope and dress code to keep your childish activities to the local mall, the library is available to everybody so says the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights that states “A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.” Personally, I think they should have also added “…and yes, even those idiots who mistake the library for a scene from the video game Gears of War.” So, did you get that genius? It is actually your right to use the library and the vast amount of materials inside of it…for free…anytime you want, but listen, even librarians need a day off - so deal with it. Go get a snow cone. Or make a video for YouTube that nobody is going to watch. I don’t care. Just leave my library alone.

So again, way to go, jackass! Now money that could have been spent on library materials that would inspire and educate you to actually do something with your life (or to purchase Gears of War 3, which I heard is also pretty cool), now has to go to replacing those doors, which were already open to you in more ways than you realize.

Sincerely,
MM

P.S. Please don’t shoot the messenger, the sheriff, or anybody for that matter. Just pick up a book.


The Library Bill of Rights:
http://staging.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/oif/statementspols/statementsif/librarybillrights.cfm


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Welcome to StandUpLibrarian.com!

StandUpLibrarian.com is a blog created and operated by me, an out-of-work comedian-librarian looking for my first library job, so there’s bound to be tons of mistakes and lessons learned in this hopefully, hilarious yet heartfelt journey that is known as my complicated and colorful life. Why do it? Well, for some reason, several people seem to think my past stories of heartbreak and failure is funny, so I thought this time I would invite you along for the ride – so get out the popcorn and enjoy!

For a bit of an introduction, the following is a little story to help you get caught up on me, and what I have been doing the past ten years…

Once upon a time, Memorial Day weekend 2000, I moved to NYC without a job or any friends, so I went to the library. When I was told by a drunk guy in a bar that PR would be a good career for me, I went to the library. When I got the job but didn't really know how to do PR, I went to the library. When I needed a new job with “greater challenges” AKA I wasn’t getting along with my co-workers, I went to the library. When I got new PR job and was told by drunk co-worker that I was funny and should do stand-up comedy after seeing my impression of our boss, I went to the library. When I was “let go” from PR job and wanted to do one-woman show yet had no idea how to write one, I went to the library. When I got signed by literary agency to write book based on one-woman show, I went to the library. When book didn't sell and I felt like a complete loser after giving up entire life and career in NYC to be a writer, I went to the library. And it was then that the librarian finally said, "You come here a lot and you read tons and tons of books on everything from PR to comedy to writing to overcoming depression, have you ever thought about being a librarian?" I hadn’t but this time I knew the librarian was someone I should actually listen to, especially since she was sober. I graduated in May.

THE BEGINNING.

Yes, I just wrote this stupid story off the cuff - why? Because it is true. I am a firm believer that you can do anything you put your mind to but if you read and utilize your library, you can do it well. I also think it is important not to take career advice from drunk people. My goal in life was always to entertain, which is why even after starting grad school in 2006 to become a librarian, I still moved to Los Angeles to pursue my dream of comedy and acting. While writing thirty-page term papers on the history of libraries in the APA-style, I was also roller skating behind Brad Garrett on “Til’ Death,” serving former PR clients shrimp at the Oscars, and telling jokes to a roomful of LA people not really listening to them. I’ve obviously worked a lot of jobs to make ends meet while pursuing this Masters degree to officially become a librarian so I can then work in a library, and what do you know? The economy is in the crapper and people want to cut library jobs.

Over these past ten years, I have found that the one place I can truly count on to be there for me is the library. It is a place that offers us anything we could possible want or dream of and actually delivers. So it is here on this blog that I will finally admit my truth - making people laugh is simply not enough for me anymore. Maybe it is because I have lost far too many jobs over it, or maybe it is because I don’t think I was ever really that funny. I mean, they say comedy is subjective (especially to those people you are making fun of) but maybe the truth is that as a librarian I can be put to better use. Who really needs another bitter comic? As a librarian, I may not necessarily have all the answers but I do have the means to get the information, and unlike PR, it is free to anyone who wants it.

A few things I should mention...

“Shhhh” won’t be used on this blog - I didn’t become a librarian to shush you people. I get told to shut up by plenty of folks and I don’t listen to them either.

“So if you are a comedian, tell me a joke” – No. The humor books are in the stacks (817 for American satire & humor, 827 for British humor) if you want guaranteed laughs by people who have “made it” AKA had the right agent to get published. Otherwise, go pay a cover charge and a two-drink minimum at your nearest comedy club where you can also enjoy crappy nachos for ten dollars.

Finally, this blog isn’t just for me, it is also for you - this whole librarian stereotype with the old lady wearing the bun and glasses has got to go. I want you to stand up and take action in your own lives to help me share with the world that libraries are a very cool place to be and shouldn’t be cut in city budgets (besides some of us librarians are pretty fabulous, the rest I hope to help at some point, I mean, why is a chain needed on glasses? Put them on the desk. Pick them back up. Repeat.) In return, I promise to entertain you with my mishaps and adventures along the way to wherever I am going. Right now I have no idea. Just think of me as your own personal comedic reference librarian here to serve you with a variety of information and hopefully, plenty of laughs too.

Now go get that library card!
MM


Share |