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Stack of Books
Posted on Friday 8 May 2009 at 8:44 am

Volunteering at the Library

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I've started volunteering at the public library. I've gone in a few times now. I've been assigned a section of books (a few fiction shelves and all the Large Print books, fiction and non-fiction) to clean up, as it were. I'm making sure all the books are in correct order (several are slightly out of place, some are in the completely wrong place as in I was working on the GRA authors yesterday are there was a Mallory in the middle of them), making them look pretty by lining them all up, making sure they all have readable labels, etc. I've been going in for an hour or two when they first open in the morning and I listen to my music on my headphones while I work. I find the whole thing fun and relaxing, which may seem odd to others but is exactly what I expected and why I wanted to do this. Once I'm done, I'm more at peace with the world and I feel like I've been better able to focus on my dissertation.

There's just one problem with all this: I have a bum shoulder. My left shoulder has caused me problems since at least my sophomore year of high school. It acts up if I spend too long, meaning more than about 15 minutes, at a computer typing (surfing the net doesn't cause the same problem because I don't hold my shoulders in the same position as I do when I'm constantly typing). This means that I was always in constant pain for the last few weeks of every semester during the final paper crunch. Unfortunately my shoulder also acts up if I work with my arm over my head for more than a few seconds. I sometimes have difficulty holding a nail so that I can hammer it into the wall. Sorting all these books at the library requires working with my arm over my head, moving objects much heavier than nails, for an extended period. My shoulder has been throbbing non-stop for about two days now. I don't know what to do. I've had x-rays done on this thing a few times and they always say there is nothing wrong with the bone or joint or anything so it must just be muscle spasms. The only thing the doctors have suggested is prescription muscle relaxants that would knock me out. I've been taking tylenol, but that only helps so much and I don't think it is a good idea to be taking a pain killer every day. I think I might try heating pads. The other option is to try the doctors again and see if maybe they'll send me to a specialist. I don't know if a chiropractor or something like that would be able to help.


lady_bracknell at 1:22 pm on 08 May 2009 (UTC) (Link)
When I injured my shoulder, I found amazing heat pads that actually stick to your skin (Nurofen make them, if they're international?) - you can wear them for up to eight hours and I found them to be the only thing that actually allowed me to keep moving. They might help until you find what's actually casuing the problem?
bratty_jedi at 2:01 am on 10 May 2009 (UTC) (Link)
Before I was on birth control, I used some sticky heating pad things for cramps. They make the same thing for shoulders and I was thinking about looking into those. Sounds like it should be similar to what you've used. If I remember correctly, they were a bit on the expensive side, though. Here's hoping I don't need them all the time.
drumher at 1:45 pm on 08 May 2009 (UTC) (Link)
I've also had some shoulder problems, though not as serious as yours sounds, but I started doing Pilates (Denise Austin has some good DVD's) and found that the stretching exercises helped to loosen and strengthen the muscles. Haven't felt a twinge from it in months.

Any way you can get your hands on a step ladder to help in your library duties? Get you up to the same level as the shelves?
bratty_jedi at 2:02 am on 10 May 2009 (UTC) (Link)
I tried Yoga for a bit with the roommates Wii. It bored me to death. Pilates may be better, though.

They don't have any ladders/stools/etc. The volunteer coordinator mentioned that one of the other shelf people is a short little old lady so she has another gentleman do the very top row of her shelves. If it gets too bad, I guess I could ask for an arrangement like that.
drumher at 3:10 pm on 11 May 2009 (UTC) (Link)
I had the same trouble with Yoga. I had no patience for it. Pilates is a nice middle ground. It does a lot of stretching but there's enough cardio to keep things going.

If they can't get you a ladder, make sure you insist on a hot young guy to help you with the upper shelves. You will, of course, need to watch him closely to make sure he does it correctly. ;)
Wild Magelet
wildmagelet at 3:53 am on 09 May 2009 (UTC) (Link)
First of all, very sorry about your shoulder pain. I would at least give the heating pads a try; my boss has been having back pain and she's been using the portable ones that you kind of shake up to activate them and then wear them under your clothing, and I think they are helping.

And second of all, colour me extremely impressed that you're actually volunteering to do the job that almost sent me batty from boredom when I was getting paid for it. Although we weren't allowed to wear headphones which would have helped a lot, and I have a naturally relaxed attitude toward mess, so tidying things up doesn't come naturally to me. I did notice that it started to become an irritating habit, though. :) Whenever I was in the uni library on legitimate student business, I would have to stop myself from picking up the books on the shelf bays and reshelving them. I also, even more sadly, alphabetised my personal bookshelves when I rearranged my room. The librarian genes from my mother are obviously too strong to fight.
bratty_jedi at 2:08 am on 10 May 2009 (UTC) (Link)
Are the shake up heating pads reusable or one time? I know of some that are designed to be warn under clothes, but they're one time use and I think they were a bit expensive. Something reusable would be fantastic.

The music definitely helps make it more fun and relaxing. Plus, I think the whole volunteering thing, particularly that I only do it for an hour or two at a time and I know that I don't have to do it if I don't want to, makes it better. I'm highly anal so organizing works for me. I've always had my shelves organized, though that organization scheme sometimes changes (I can never decide if I want to do genres and alphabetize in each genre like a bookstore or just alphabetize like the public library, but I always have series together even if they're by different authors). My tshirts are hung up in my closet sorted by color so sorting books is nothing.
lady_katvic at 3:55 am on 11 May 2009 (UTC) (Link)
I have the same issue with my arms and shoulders. My arms feel like lead and are useless even if all I did was change the sheets on my bed. Seems sort of weird when you consider that I used to throw shot put and discus. Sure makes me feel old sometimes. :o(

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