Friday, September 10, 2010

Goodbye to all of that!

I got a card in the mail today--it was unexpected, but not unwelcome. It came to me from Shera Farnham, who is an administrator at Phoenix Public Library. Shera and I knew each other, or course, but never worked together.

Beneath a tranquil seashore scene, it says: "Now your life is really your own . . ."

Inside it finishes the thought. "That has to be a great feeling. Congratulations . . . and enjoy!"

The card also contains a personal note from Shera. She says:

I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to see you before you left. I wish you the very best in your new life. The article you wrote for LJ was superb! I hope you'll find more ways to use your writing talents.

Thank you for all the years and the many thousands of customers you have helped--you made a difference in many lives.

Best wishes--


I appreciate this card very much. Thank you, Shera, for acknowledging that I was indeed an asset to the library system.

On August 27, 2010 I made a rather hasty retirement from the Phoenix Public Library system. I had not planned to retire so soon, but a situation came up at work where I clashed with my branch head. Although I was eligible for retirement nine years ago in 2001, I had not planned to go for another two years. However, with staff cuts and budget reductions I found myself moved into a stressful position working for the one person in the whole system that I did not think I could work for. I was right. It took my new boss about 5 months to find a way to suspend me without pay for 3 days--that's a $720 slap in the face. I had no doubt she was already planning my next 5 day suspension. I recognize the process--it was the beginning of the document and destroy process that supervisors are taught to use to deal with problem employees. I didn't think of myself as a problem employee. I didn't take drugs; the public liked me; I went out of my way to help wherever and whenever needed. But, on paper she had every right to do what she did--I occasionally broke a rule or two on the job--who doesn't? A more sympathetic supervisor would not have charged me with the petty crap she used. Oh well, the writing was on the wall for me, and I can read the writing on the wall or anywhere else. It was time for me to go. I went. I tried to evade my fate, but the library administration was adamant--go back to my old position--a position where I was doomed to failure--or leave. I left.

So, I'm not a librarian any more. That's okay. The library is changing a lot, and I don't think I can keep up. I actually believe the public library is evolving away from its traditional role as a Guardian of Culture and Knowledge Provider. It is becoming a day-care center for children and a social center for society's lower classes. Such institutions are needed--I just don't think they should be called libraries. I was, pretty much, a traditonal librarian. I'll always have a fond spot in my heart for libraries--the old traditional libraries that existed for most of my life--not the new social centers where the indigent come to play games and watch sleaze on public computers. The library doesn't need librarians any more--it needs computer shepherds and social workers.

Thank you, Shera, for noticing the good I did. And good luck in your own continuing career at Phoenix's great metropolitan outreach system!



  1. Happy retirement, Ken. I'm sorry that it was not under happier circumstances.

  2. Have a gentle retirement and do something you've never had the time to do before.

    Be safe.

  3. Yikes! Somehow I thought you'd be there forever. In spite of constantly talking about when you would finally get to retire.

  4. I am shocked, Ken, but I guess not surprised. I know this will give you time to do the countless projects you have not had as much for as you might have wished. Good luck!