D stands for December, deadlines, panic begins

Deadlines are important for journalism. You probably know this, from seeing at least one movie where an editor is yelling and reporters are scrambling to get a story in before the paper goes to press.

Even a serious movie such as the classic “All the President’s Men” is about balancing the research required for responsible reporting with the need to get a paper out every day. Much of what you read in the paper has been written under a tight deadline.

A “Library Lines” column, however, is written well in advance of its publication date. In general, this is a good thing.

It means there’s no angry, cigar-chomping man with his sleeves rolled up, yelling at me, “Mixner! I need that column, @#$%&!!!” (When you use symbols instead of profanity, like I did just then, they’re called “grawlixes.” The term was coined by a master of the technique, Mort Walker, the cartoonist of Beetle Bailey.)

But getting back to deadlines, the fact that I don’t have Christmas presents picked out for anyone is merely a slight worry inching around in the back of my mind. Comfort and joy, indeed.

Fortunately, I work in a public library. This doesn’t mean that my family and friends will all be getting books for Christmas, although some will.

What it does mean is that by looking at the new books, movies and music, I know about popular subjects and hobbies. Recently, my mom was telling me about a jewelry-making kit she bought for the little children of a friend. After a minute, I said, “Ah, yes! Polymer jewelry!” Or something to that effect.

How’d I know that? I learn interesting things at the library while interacting with all sorts of people who tell me about what they’re interested in — things I never would have never otherwise known about. Perhaps some of that will sink in and help reduce my Christmas-gift panic.

Robert Mixner is a reference librarian at the Bartholomew County Public Library and can be reached at rjmixner@barth.lib.in.us.