Returning Home to a New Job
July 21st, 1986 was a warm summer day when I arrived at the front door of the Greenburgh Public Library in a suit and tie for my first day of work. It had been a long 8 months since I’ve been laid off from my job at a non-profit agency in Washington DC. My job involved working as an Information Specialist in Washington DC using a computer, something that had recently entered our collective consciousness at the time.
Just after I received notification that I was being laid off, I decided to move home to Hartsdale to be closer to my family. After such a long lay-off, I was itching to work again so I figured I would work at the library until something more suitable came around. I had some experience working in a library setting since I worked at one in college.
The First Day
Greeted at the front door by the YA Librarian, I was told to wait at the information desk located near the card catalog until the Assistant Director arrived to begin giving me a tour and orientation. One of my first tasks that day involved sorting and putting in order, 500 to 1000 preprinted index cards to be filed in the card catalog which took me several hours to do. Of course over the next few days I got the hang of it. During the afternoon I was sent over to begin training in the Periodical Department.
Having been born and raised in Hartsdale and having attended Woodlands High School, I was happy to see so many familiar faces who walked through the doors of the library. Even after 10,958 days, it brings me so much joy to see people from my childhood paying a visit to the library.
From Catalog Cards to Computers
Although Greenburgh is one of the largest towns in New York Library, the atmosphere at the Greenburgh Public Library at the time was almost a laid back, small town feel. Looking back on that day, one marvels of how much things have changed over the years. There was one computer in the whole library and that was used to tabulate and record the checkout cards which were simple punched cards (like the one seen below). A year or two later, I would briefly be trained to run the overdue reports a task, admittedly (one of the few) I did not master well. There were no other computers in the library. This would start to change in the months and years ahead. The funny thing, looking back, is no one seem to be worried or in any hurry to see what was about to invade and take over our existence.
Today, the card catalog has long been replaced by public computer catalogs a.k.a. OPACS. The cards are now hard to find having been used over the years as scrap for notations. There are some 50 public computers for internet access at the Greenburgh Public Library. And because the library has WiFi, patrons can look up items in the catalog on a smart phone, read books and magazines on tablets and watch a movie or do research on a laptop computer.
A Final Thought
As the number of days have gone by since that first day, I have become more and more interested and involved in the history of the town of Greenburgh and its people, connecting the past to the present so future generations of people will not forget how far we have come. It is now 10,958 days since I showed up that first day of work at the library, and I look forward to more memories to be made at the Greenburgh Public Library.