I did it! My library board application, the follow up

from this year's Imbolc altar

I heralded in Imbolc by making application for a spot on the Hennepin County Library board. After going through security that uses the exact same procedures that you see at the airport (less carry-on restrictions) I wandered into the first elevator that opened and wandered up to the 24th floor … in the wrong tower of the government building. A lovely woman managing the law library told me I didn’t need to pass through security again, I could just go down one floor and cross a bridge. ((I think I’m going to go back , and go back through security, just to go on that bridge again. It was cool. I wanted to spend more time with it.))

I then got to the correct room (another woman made a similar error) and wandered into a big room surrounding a big room with those official boards on it. It reminded me of the city council, except not once this time around did I get the distinct impression that one board member was picturing beating another board member over the head with her gavel.

I came in expecting to give my statement of application to a board of library personnel. As it turned out, I was to give it to the board of county commissioners.

If you’re not aware, Hennepin County is a BIG and highly populated county. If power is conferred, each one of those people has a lot of it through passive demographics alone. That … was intimidating.

I watched one guy on the board openly roll his eyes and make faces at the comments of some of the applicants. Some took notes, some wandered off.When my turn came, this was the statement I prepared:

Out of all our worthy government services provided by Hennepin County, I feel that our libraries do the best work in ensuring equal opportunity to all citizens. I have myself benefitted from the system since I moved here in 2002: over the years, I’ve used books and magazines for research, participated in public library events on subjects that might otherwise be beyond my reach and even used the library as a public meeting space for a local social organization that I run. The library’s services are so intrinsic to my life that I keep my library card next to my computer because I tap its resources for writing research that frequently. When looking for stimulating entertainment I check first with the public events listed on the library calendar.

I am passionate about education, the arts and about ensuring equal opportunity. Our libraries preserve all these things, and I want to help continue that preservation. Information, both the generation and organization of it, has become the main resource that our country offers. Libraries play a powerful role in managing that tide of data so that everyone can benefit from that gathered knowledge.

As a person who actually remembers how to use the old card catalogs and as one who was among the first to work with the electronic databases that replaced them, I offer a unique perspective on how to make library services most useful. As a teenager, I worked in the periodicals section of a reference library in Lake County, Indiana. It was my job to teach patrons how to adapt to the new electronic databases, as well as how to use both microfilm and microfiche without injuring themselves or the equipment. While those archiving methods are rarely used anymore, I remember them and actually used them – and I know intimately the learning curve that comes with adopting new technology and the frustration that happens when you just want to read the newspaper.

In the course of my time at that library, I came to realize that libraries did more than archive knowledge: they improve lives. Along with the patrons there to research papers for homework assignments, I met adults who came in to learn more about recently diagnosed health conditions, to find out how to repair damaged homes, to search for jobs, to update their skills and adapt to the computer age and to get help in starting new businesses. The libraries at Hennepin County do all this, and so much more. I want to help.

I tried to speak it rather than read it, especially since most people went off the cuff. Even so, I looked up. Every board member at least gave me polite attention. No one had any questions at the end. I did get some encouraging looks from other applicants on the way out.

I got turned around trying to find the parking garage when leaving. A blonde woman about my age saw my confusion and asked if I was lost. She set me on the right path with a well-intended if patronizing admonishment to make sure I kept my parking ticket. She’d seen this before.

I then stopped at Club Jager for a glass of wine so my hands would stop shaking. They had Tempranillo. I wasn’t expecting better than Sutter Home.

Then, after a bit, Brenda and I did our meditative/trancework Imbolc celebration. We’ll be doing more workings tomorrow, but the core of the holiday is now observed.

With memory to Brigid, giving honor to Athena, and apologies for mixing it up since we normally don’t do that.

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