Lately I’ve been musing about what the name of my blog means, and why I chose it, and if it’s still applicable, especially now that I’ve evolved from an actual librarian to more of a librarian-in-spirit. I tend to have a burst of blog post ideas all at once, and I wrote down these thoughts a while back, and they’ve been languishing in my Drafts folder ever since because the post seemed incomplete. Then I came upon a section of The Paper Garden: Mrs Delany Begins Her Life’s Work at 72, by Molly Peacock, that ruminated on the term “amateur.” What perfect timing!
So: What does it mean to be an amateur librarian?
I was at one time officially a librarian, but my college degree is in elementary education. Although I studied for my certification and read a lot of professional books independently, I felt like an amateur the entire time I was employed. Maybe all teachers feel like that to a certain degree, especially in the beginning, but it wasn’t til the end of my second year that I felt like I was getting any sort of close to knowing what I was doing day in and day out. So that’s where I got the idea… of literally being a librarian, but feeling like an amateur.
But as life has changed, I’ve realized I’m an amateur in lots of other ways too… in crafting, in reading, in writing, in cooking, in relationships, in travelling, basically in every aspect of living. I don’t know what I’m doing at all!
On page 33 of The Paper Garden, Molly Peacock proclaims, “To place oneself as an amateur in the twenty-first century invites an extreme vulnerability that would probably have mystified Mrs. Delany. To declare amateur status now means confessing that you’re not serious; if you were, you’d aim to be a professional.”
But there’s a certain charm in being a self-professed amateur: I am out in the open admitting that I’m winging it, I am nowhere near an expert, and I make no promises of perfection!
I’ve always wanted to find my niche, to become fluent in something and know everything about it, but I’m finding that it can be more fun to dabble. My self-proclaimed amateur status is my attempt to take life a little less seriously, to do what I like to do with no apologies for imperfection. I’m not a professional anything, and I’m actually happy that way!
The Paper Garden is a study of an 18th-century woman who began her life’s work—inventing mixed-media paper collages—at the age of 72. The author is a poet, and brings a lot of her own life into the mix. The text has a certain contemplative quality, a meditation on middle-aged life and creativity and art.
On page 34, this quote: “Stepping into the position of an amateur, on the other hand – someone who loves something and wants to learn about it – repeats the confusion of youth. The state of not-knowing, especially for a person of age and accomplishment, recaptures youth’s novel excitements. … Not to know is also sometimes the position of the poet, who depends on close observation to magnify a subject, hoping to discover an animating spirit. There’s romance in that forensic impulse, because it yields surprise – an antidote to the jaded mind age has to fend against.”
So basically… what I’m trying to say in this rambly, purposeless post… is that I’m an amateur librarian, and proud of it!
And don’t forget… Enter to win one of two handmade happies by yours truly!