Monday, September 03, 2007

But You Don’t Look Like a Librarian!

Speaking of librarians my good buddy Guy Robertson who has worked for years as a librarian and a disaster planner was recently denied access to the United States on the grounds that he “didn’t look like a librarian!” But let Guy explain:

“Shortly after Remembrance Day, I arrived at Vancouver’s bustling airport three hours before my flight to Jacksonville. I checked in at the airline counter and confirmed my seat. Then I strolled through the doors of U.S. Customs to apply for my work visa. Having spoken at length with the U.S. consulate in Vancouver, I did not anticipate problems in getting a visa, boarding my flight and delving into Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi as the aircraft took off. I carried with me what I believed to be adequate paperwork, including my old work visa, a new passport and a fat file of documents pertaining to my Jacksonville project.”

“The Customs officer who examined my paperwork seemed to distrust me immediately. He asked me a number of questions about my activities in the U.S., and scoffed at my answers. I couldn’t say anything to satisfy him. Then he said, ‘You tell me you’re a librarian. You don’t look like a librarian. No, you don’t. I’m refusing you entry to the United States.’ He sent me back to the airline counter, where a frazzled attendant told me that these days many people are turned back at the border.”

“ ‘It’s all about 9/11, you know. If the Customs boys don’t like you, they won’t let you through. I’m sorry sir.’ She sounded as though she often said the same thing to flustered, middle-aged men whose crime it was to look like something other than a librarian.”

This accords with one of my own recent experiences at the border. I was traveling down to my favorite used bookstore, Henderson's, in Bellingham, Washington. The border guard asked me the purpose of my trip. “I am going to Henderson's, a used bookstore in Bellingham.” “Why,” he inquired, “don’t they have used bookstores in Vancouver?”

One of Guy’s students in the library technician program at Langara College suggested that he might try the following the next time he attempts to board a plane to the U.S.:

“ ‘You’ve got to wear glasses,’ said Jessica. ‘Get a pair with a broken bridge between the lenses, and wrap the break with masking tape. Look dorky, but not dumb. And get some dandruff. It helps.’”

The full text of the article in online and may be accessed here, or just Google “Feliciter: Keeping Up Appearances.”

Are You Geeky Enough to be a Librarian?

Take this simple test to determine whether you have the stuff to make a potential librarian:

(1) You enjoy acronyms.

(2) You own a cat.

(3) When you are confronted with a pile of books you think, “Hmm…first I would sort by author, then by title?

(4) You are obsessive enough to appreciate the difference between 345.065 and 345.605.

(5) You possess a useless undergraduate degree.

(6) Being surrounded by books makes you lather with delight.

(7) The idea of someone preventing you from reading Orwell because they don’t like it strikes you as Orwellian.

(8) You are comfortable with the Internet.

(9) If your house caught on fire, one of the things you would grab is your favourite book.

(10) You possess a useless graduate degree.

(11) You can “daisy-chain a herd of Ubuntu boxes” faster than you can say “FreeBSD.”

(12) These kids today, you swear. If they would just read a damn book once in awhile, they wouldn’t be blowing each other up so much.

(13) You could find out the middle name of someone’s high-school boyfriend in just ten minutes on the Internet.

(14) You could find out the first line of A Tale of Two Cities with just ten seconds on the Internet.

(15) You know the first line of A Tale of Two Cities!

(16) You are a disenfranchised intellectual.

(17) The idea of arming the public with knowledge appeals to you more than, say, arming them with pitchforks and torches.

(18) You would rather do something cool than get rich.

(19) You possess a useless doctoral degree.

(20) You can say “Colon classification” without laughing.

--From Richard Hopkins