Monday, November 8, 2010

I am not a student, d***it!

I am a relatively young librarian, as I went straight from undergrad into grad school. I am not much older than my students; in fact, many of them are the same age as my younger sister (which makes it weird, because my sister is my best friend). Anyway, I was at a function the other day (ok, ok, church lunch), sitting at an adult table, and everyone who sat down wanted to know if I was a student, and how my studies were going. The same thing happened with my student workers: oh, are you a new student here? No, I'm not.

Whenever I talk to my co-workers about it, I receive the typical "adult" response: well, enjoy it while you can, that won't last long, let's talk when you're thirty. These responses irk me probably as much as when I am mistaken for a student. The reason is probably not what you think. I am not concerned about my peers taking my abilities seriously; there is one thing that I am really good at in life, and that is academia. I am not concerned about students taking me seriously, because they're students. What really worries me is that I won't take myself seriously.

I have been a student for the past umpteen years of my life. It is what I know. I am concerned that I will fall into old patterns. I don't really see myself as an adult at all - in fact, sometimes I worry I act like I'm still in high school. This job is important to me, and I don't want to mess it up because I cannot act like an adult. So every time someone asks if I'm a student, I wonder: am I student? Wait, no, I'm a librarian.


  1. I have the same issue (we discussed this at length during my visit!)

    Even though I work at a smaller library, I admittedly do not know all of the student workers outside of my area. Last week I was copying handouts for an instruction session and a student worker from another area came up to use the copy machine in the back room. She asked "Are you going to take much longer?" and I said no. She stood really impatiently and finally asked THE question, "are you a student? I don't think you're supposed to be using this." I replied, "No, I am a faculty member. A librarian. My name is Katy, what's yours?"


  2. There are days I wish had a beard, a tweed jacket, and a pipe. Obviously, then I would be "faculty".

  3. It's really hard, too, to draw the line between being friendly/approachable yet still earning the respect your position affords. Is it better to be feared or loved? I've had to adjust my speech patterns and vocabulary in order to convey that I'm not some young kid off the street but an actual trained professional. It sucks, but it's inevitable. (And that's not to say your personality disappears, either.)

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  5. I don't believe in traditional "adult"-hood. People in my family grow more responsible but not more mature and then we eventually mellow. A bit. If we are lucky.

    The qualities of responsibility, professionalism (NOT professor Dr. Scarfo's stringent definition), reliability and treating others with respect mean more than if everything you do can be labeled "adult".