The notion that the world of the librarian is constrictive, that the librarian is interchangeable with the library itself, that she is static, pedantic, is dying. Certainly, there are logical reasons why this notion came to be. But for some time now, a librarian must be a researcher, a social worker, a teacher, a computer programmer, a mentor—an ear, a brain, a shoulder, a heart—all of these things, sometimes in the span of a day. In my own professional journey as a librarian, I have introduced a cadre of library resources to classrooms of cadets at SUNY Maritime College, searched for a grandmother’s name in hundred year old social registers for The Valentine Richmond History Center, provided security at the battle of the bands at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library, recommended “popular” music for the Chesterfield County Libraries to collect, cataloged Austin Powers penis pumps and Howdy Doody lunch boxes for the Museum of the Moving Image, perused Richard Hell’s collection of T-shirts at New York University, affixed call number labels to bound collections of Episcopalian journals for General Theological Seminary, and now, at Auraria Library in Denver, I work with students I will never meet, who study in Beijing, and visit our library remotely.
In my journey as a poet, I have read to audiences of three in auditoriums that seat 100 and to packed rooms the size of closets, sewn the skin of my fingers into chapbooks of poetry for my small press, slept on the couches and floors of geniuses, written introductions for hundreds of poets for reading series’ in Tucson, Richmond, New York, and Denver, blathered on about myself in interviews conducted by writers more talented than I am, organized rained out small press book fairs in Jackson Heights, drunkenly given copies of my books to hero poets, drawn portraits of MMA fighters for my horse less press chapbook, virtually visited classrooms of new, shining poets I will never meet, thousands of miles away from me, and now I have edited an issue of work by poet librarians for The Volta.
What does it mean? This crossover, this array, the opportunities, the roles, the adventures, the contact, the bonds, both brief and lasting, the imagination, the work? Maybe no more than that. In this issue written by poets who have worked or currently work as librarians, in Jessica Smith’s poems inspired by withdrawn books, in the stories Janice Harrington and Lisa Forrest tell, in Jocelyn Saidenberg’s journey through Bartleby and Trevor Calvert’s transformation of The Information into poetry into information into poetry, in Stephanie Strickland’s and Ian Hatcher’s intellectual-freedom-fighter’s-day-in-the-life poem generator and Dolsy Smith’s conceptual library explosion, in Shannon Tharp’s auto-investigation into why, it is all reflected. I hope you enjoy it.