Saturday, March 11, 2006

"Where the Hell Did You Find those Guys..."
America's Most Dangerous College Students

These are the rules: everybody fights, nobody quits. If you don't do your job I'll kill you myself. Welcome to the Roughnecks.

There are several reasons I don't talk about where, exactly, I work or the specifics of what I do daily.

I'm going to bend my rules a bit.

I supervise a staff of five part-time employees; in the last three weeks, these guys have accomplished the damned-near impossible. My team specializes in making the impossible work, so nobody should be surprised.

The team my administration has graciously allowed me to build represents the hardest of the hardcore in the L-World. They are my own personal Dirty Half-Dozen, my library's version of the Fighting Roughnecks.

I'm almost certain no other team at any library specializes in the kind of work they've mastered. No benchmark institutions. No safety net when things go wrong, no performance measure beyond identifying a problem and fixing it.

They deserve some credit for what they do. They've earned it. If I ever run into anyone at a conference who wants to say something to the contrary, I'm dropping a motherfucker. Seriously.

We're not talking about sitting at a reference desk or reshelving books here. We're talking blood and sweat - work more akin to an extreme sport than to traditional library work.

Everybody fights, nobody quits.

That quotation is the only one that ever comes to mind when trying to describe the sheer force of will my team exhibits daily. They come to work sick, they work tired and hungry, and they work through pain.

I've had at least a dozen prominent members of this community ask me where I found these guys. While celebrating our recent accomplishment last night, I had a retired professor ask me, in the john, where the hell I found guys so downright ... frightening. (I get that reaction often.)

I found them where one finds the majority of part-time employees in this town - all of them are local college students.

I recently posted on the complete stupidity of Green Beer Day - a local college tradition. I've often posted on similar acts of insanity perpetuated by the student body around these parts. I figure its about time to post something, well, positive about members of the local campus community. Not every 18-22 year-old in this town is a drunken idiot.

Oxford is more than a haven for sheltered white kids, more than a refugee camp for the Entitled. My Roughnecks represent what constitutes Miami's Silent Minority - a growing minority found on most college campuses these days.

Oxford is filled with some of the most badass students I've ever met. They work in the community's libraries, bars, cafes and coffee shops. They pump gas, work construction, clean motels, and fix computers. They earn the right to be called scholars every damned day, and it would be unfair of me not to acknowledge their contribution to this community.

In 50 years, most of the current crop of stereotypical Miami students will be nothing more than names in an alumni database. The Silent Minority? They'll be naming buildings after them, if for no other reason than the fact that their actions in life will demand monuments that go beyond the realm of the Entitled and the Sheltered.

Everybody fights, nobody quits.

The students of today who display similar toughness are the only ones worthy of being called the leaders of tomorrow. There is no room for cowardice in information science or any other field, no sanctuary in this Information Age for protecting the status quo.

Two members of my team are busy prepping for the MCAT, preparing their medical school application packets. One is planning to take the LSAT and is an accomplished intramural hockey player. All of my guys are carrying full courseloads and their combined GPAs average out at around 3.7.

My Roughnecks aren't typical college students; they're superhuman. Any graduate program in the country that would deny them admission or a decent financial aid package will earn the professional wrath of the ol' ZenFo Pro.

If you're the director of a graduate program, don't make me drive to your campus and put a boot up your ass. My Roughnecks bust tail every damned day to help make my library a better place and to earn money for college.

Hell, my team has earned that much. When they're on my dime, everybody fights and nobody quits. I owe them the same level of dedication.

Warm it up, everything you've got. C'mon you apes, you wanna live forever?


Just a Librarian said...

I wish my student workers worked that hard. I'm lucky if I go a week without a short shift.

Anonymous said...


I must say thank you for writing about this. I currently serve as director of a small public library in a college town.
The majority of my staff are students who come from households that make too much to qualify for grants and too little to pay for tuition. I'm also a former student worker, and I worked my way through library school.I hate to admit it, but I've never seen Starship Troopers.

Stand up for your students, Jason. They could be your library's biggest donors one day. I don't know if you work in a public or an academic library, but hat's off to you. Don't worry about professional backlash. If I had the funds, I would offer you a job right now.

The ZenFo Pro said...

Free doughnuts. It helps. ;)

Thanks! Nice to know I'm not alone here.

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