Sunday, July 18, 2010

Peer Groups, and Not Fitting In by Patty Andersen

Patty Andersen is Library Director at the Devereaux Library which is located on the campus of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City, South Dakota

Peer Groups, and Not Fitting In
by Patty Andersen

Many thanks to Kaye for inviting me, I’m still not sure why but thanks anyway! I thought for a long time about a topic for this blog. Not being an author I had to wonder if I would have anything interesting to say but Kaye insists that I will do fine. You can be the judge.

So, my topic is – not fitting into the peer group. My peer group is other librarians, specifically other Library Directors although I can count all librarians as well. You see, I never feel like I fit in with these folks. No, it isn’t that I don’t have the correct education (M.L.I.S. from Louisiana State University) or the job (library director since 1996) the problem is –I don’t like the same thing that so many of the other librarians like; I don’t listen to classical music (I’m rock ‘n roll or country), I avoid NPR, I seldom watch PBS (History Detectives being a notable exception) and I can’t tell you the last time I read the latest “important book”. So, I tend to be really quiet in social situations around my peers. Oh, there are a few out there who read mysteries (often with the disclaimer that “I read the classics”. There are even some who read romance (ack, did I just admit that I also read romance, oh well, it is true, I used to read only romance, many of them being the series romance of Harlequin) but most often they talk about things heard on NPR, watched on PBS or books that I’ve seen talked about on TV but would never dream of reading. Can I admit that as far as I know I have never read an Oprah book club book? That the only classical music I know comes from TV or movies (Amadeus anyone)? That I would rather watch reruns of M*A*S*H* than some series on world peace that takes weeks to finish? Even in some of the places where I am comfortable, like DorothyL, threads will pop up that make me feel like an outsider. The one that started me thinking about this topic is one that shows up from time to time, the issue of “literature” vs. “popular fiction”. I’ve read a lot of literature; I love Shakespeare, hated Dante and got through lots of others on my way to a minor in English literature. My problem is, I don’t like critiquing what I read – I love to read but if I have to analyze it to death it takes away the joy of the story for me. I can do it but I don’t like it. To me when someone says LITERATURE they are looking down on me and what I read, they are dissing the things I love because it doesn’t fit some artificial standard that “they” (who ever “they” are) say is the only thing to read.

Thankfully I have found places where I’m comfortable. DorothyL for mysteries (most of the time), SoundsLikeAMystery for audiobooks, specifically mystery audiobooks, Facebook for general chatter about the fun things in life as well as the more serious and home for friends and family.

So, are there others of you out there who don’t feel like you fit in with your peer group? If so, let me know, I might feel less alone.


Anonymous said...

Hi Patty,

Enjoyed your column..:) and glad to see another Tiger! I heard via Dianne Kovacs that LSU was trying to close its MLIS program due to budget problems..:(


Vicki Lane said...

As a writer, I actually enjoy being around people who DON'T share my interests. There's always something new to learn.

Patty said...

Gina - yes, LSU is trying to close the SLIS program, I've signed a petition in support of keeping the program. Haven't heard anything lately so right now it is wait and see.

Vicki - I *love* learning new things, I don't like being made to feel "less" because I don't do "literature" or "good music". There is a difference.


Patty said...


I meant to add - and yes, sometimes I will learn something from such conversations but I don't when it is just a rehash of some show (tv or radio) that was just on last night.

Judy Bobalik said...

Well, with the exception of I love classical music, esp. opera we could have been separated at birth.
Love country music, started out reading Harlequin and Silhouette series romances. I am a lurker on SLAM and DorothyL.
Welcome, and leave it to Kaye to dig up more family members.
Do you read/know Lori Armstrong?

Patty said...

Thanks Judy, always nice to meet a soulmate!

Yes, I read and have met Lori Armstrong, even offered her assistance with research! I"m a "semi-lurker" on both groups. I don't post all the time but if I have something to say I'll post!

dleisert said...

Peer groups.... Do I even have a peer group? I figure that I have several. I am a librarian, but with interests many librarians don't share (sports, anyone? camping? blues/jazz/R&B? and the list goes on.) So parts of me fit in with parts of several peer groups. I never am a perfect fit - with anyone but myself.


Mary Jane Maffini said...

Love your post, Patty! I too was a library director who didn't fit the pattern. I made way too much noise, wore orange suits and lived for mysteries. Wish I'd known you then!

Once again, I must say how much I like the great stuff on the walls of your library.


Closet Confidential: a Charlotte Adams mystery


Closet Confidential: a Charlotte Adams mystery

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Hi, everyone! Many thanks for stopping by.

Patty - I KNEW you would bring something interesting to the table & by golly, you certainly did. and beautifully. thank you. Very much.

Judy, we do seem to be able to find missing family members lately, don't we?! and happy to have them.

Patty said...

Debra - there are some librarians who I "fit in" with, our former Deputy State Librarian rode a Harley to Sturgis every year! I like the "fit only with myself" label.

MaryJane - my office is *huge* - so I had to do something with the walls. The black map is from 1904, the sampler I did in Counted Cross Stitch, the bulletin board is a place to put junk. I also have a poster of Sue, the T-Rex found in SD and living at the Field Museum in Chicago, need to get that up some day.

Kaye - thanks again for inviting me!

Wendy said...

Mary Jane, that comment made me laugh. People sometimes tell me I have way too much energy to be a librarian. What the heck does that mean, anyway? And I don't even wear an orange suit!

Patty, dear, it sounds like you've got some stuffed shirt librarian chums. You need to come hang out in Ohio. We're an easy going bunch!


Patty said...

Wendy - there are some but South Dakota is so determined to not acknowledge the fact that librarians are professionals (more in the K-12 world than mine) that people start trying to act important. There are many who I enjoy spending time with but there are times where I feel like a watermelon in a cherry tree.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

"a watermelon in a cherry tree." Ha! I LOVE that! Never heard that little saying before!