Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Librarian's Job is Never Done

I've been working at my library for almost four years now. One thing about being a librarian that continues to surprise me is how my job doesn't always end when I leave work for the day. When people find out where I work, they want to ask me questions, get my opinion, and talk to me about books and the library. I love my job and I'm very passionate about what I do, so I'm always happy to talk to people about my job even when I'm not at work. And I'm glad that people see the library as a vital part of the community. So what sort out of the library encounters have I had?

-After a teller at my bank found out I worked at the library, he proceeded to tell me about how his son hid a book from him and kept it out so it become very overdue. He was told he had to pay the late fees and charge for the book since it was lost and never returned and wanted to know if this was true. I told him yes, he would have to pay the late fees, but if he did find the book, he could bring it back in and the charge for the book would be waived.

-My elderly neighbor asked me if I could check out some Hawaiian music CDs to go with a themed birthday party he was going to. I happily looked for some music he could check out from my branch.

-I was grocery shopping when a couple of teens saw me and said "hey-you're the library lady!" I had just done summer reading school visits and so I laughed and said yep, that's me! I think of that as my librarian celebrity moment!:)

-I was purchasing duct tape for a teen program at Wal-Mart and when I gave the cashier my tax exempt card, she looked at me and said "they use duct tape at the library?" I told her yes we do and she was curious and wanted to know what I was using all the duct tape for. I told her all about my teen night after hours program and how I was the teen librarian and we were going to be making crafts out of duct tape. She was very impressed and I was glad to share that the library is more that just books and Internet.

-My friends are always asking me for book recommendations. I love it, but it's always funny to me how when they need a book to read, I'm the one to ask. I've even been sent messages on Facebook from friends I haven't talked to in awhile who find out I'm a librarian and need book suggestions for their classroom, kids, gifts, friends, and themselves.

So why do I mention all this? Because as a librarian, I represent the library, even when I'm not physically in the building. People recognize me and know that I work for the library, so I need to know about what's happening at the library, events and policies and procedures, so I can answer these questions even when I'm not at work. And as a librarian, I'm expected to know about books and be able to recommend great reads-so I better keep up with current literature and make sure my reader's advisory skills are sharpened, because I'm asked by all sorts of readers for suggestions.

Being a librarian really is a full time job and it's something you better love doing, because your job as a librarian is never done. Your attitude about the library outside of the library reflects on the library itself and if you have a positive attitude about your job and are helpful and happy to answer questions about the library-even when you're not there-you're going to leave the public with a positive impression about your library-and that's exactly what we want.

Have you ever had any outside of work work moments as a librarian, teacher, or another profession?

19 comments:

  1. Yay for librarians! I am a high school teacher librarian so get "library" moments quite often. My favorite from this summer was walking past the skateboard park when one of our more...interesting (read: pain in the you-know-what) students came out to talk to me about his overdue books

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  2. Super post! I just printed it out for my co-librarian to read because it is so true. We DO represent our library, even when we are not there. Thanks for being passionate about your job - I know more Librarians who should read this post!

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  3. Helen-That's great that he was willing to come talk to you! You're a librarian rockstar!:)

    Amy-Yep, I think sometimes people take jobs in libraries because it's a nice job, not because they're passionate about it, and then that reflects on the library. I see patrons outside of the library all the time and I always remind myself that even if I don't recognize them, they could recognize me. (especially since I have pink highlights in my hair-makes is hard to hide sometimes!:)

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  5. I have my library degree but am not yet a librarian. However, I am the book nerd in residence amongst my friends and associates! And I love it!!

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  6. My friends who have children always ask me about books and I'm still getting my masters. I'm always looking through Publisher's Weekly, Booklinks, and blogs (such as yours) for more books.
    And...
    Meg Cabot linked my blog on her website, so now I am representing the librarians-to-be.

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  7. I love this! I feel like that is probably one of the most rewarding aspects of being a librarian, that your job does extend beyond a certain building or set of hours daily. And I also like how you say you represent the library, because I think it also applies to other professions, careers, or hobbies as well. Including blogging. It's people like you who still help me keep librarian as a possible career choice on my list. :)

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  8. Jessi-I love being the book nerd among my friends!:)

    Karen-Yep, I read so much professional journal/Readers Advisory stuff but I feel like it's vital to my job and plus, I love reading reviews and new books!

    Steph-Do keep librarian on your list-you'd be awesome! And I love what you said about all of this extending to bloggers too. Yes, when we're away from our blog and not behind a computer we still represent the blogging world. So be nice and play nice at author events and conferences or you're giving bloggers a bad name.

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  9. I'm starting my MLIS in just under 3 weeks and I'm so excited! I want to work with teens as well so this post just adds to my excitement about joining the ranks of such an awe-inspiring group of people; librarians are awesome! Thanks for such a great post-this kind of passion and ongoing commitment is why I want to be a librarian.

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  10. Wonderful post. One of my librarian friends told me he gets this treatment. As an English teacher/writer I have people ask me for editing help or an opinion on something they wrote.

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  11. Great post! Librarian is definitely an all the time job. My weirdest encounter was at the gyno! She asked me what books her 12 year old son should be reading while she was doing her thing. It was a little awkward, but hey, at least now her son will have good books to read!

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  12. I definitely have the same type of out of work, but work related experiences all the time! I am always asked by my friends for book recs, I've also explained party supplies/summer reading prize purchases at Walmart, and, all in all, I love it! I'm with you...if I get recognized by my teens outside of work, I consider that a true triumph! They actually remember who I am!!

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  13. Becky's post had me LOL! That would indeed be the strangest place to be asked book recommendations!

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  14. As a high school English teacher, I have those moments quite often too. I purposely bought a house outside of my district so I wouldn't run into students all the time! :) I'm the teacher with "all the cool books" so whenever I do see a student, all we talk about is books and reading. That part I love!

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  15. Kelly-Good luck with school-I hope you love it! Working on my MLS has been the best!:)

    Medeia-I know some English teachers who get asked that as well. And it seems like whenever we get together all we talk about is books-I guess it comes with the job!:)

    Becky-HAHA! That would be awkward! But at least you gave her some great new reads!

    Jessica-I know-I love when they see me and say "hey, you came to my school!"

    Tammy-I think she wins for strangest librarian encounter!

    Mrs. Anderson-I couldn't really move out of my library area, but I know teachers who say never live in the same district you work. That's awesome you're the teacher with the cool books-you must have a great library!:)

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  16. Yes, for sure! I run into "librarian moments" outside of work, all the time.

    Here are a few of the weirdest: I was out for an evening stroll, and ran across a patron who wanted to engage me in a conversation about potty-training books!

    One time I ran into a kid at the park, her eyes were wide as saucers, "What are YOU doing here?!" I guess she thought I lived at the library 24/7!

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  17. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who gets side swiped by tweens on their bikes yelling "Hey! It's the librarian lady!"

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  18. I'm a tween/teen librarian myself and I often get recognized as "Librarian Lady". I find it funny that I've become "Librarian Lady" but I love using it as a starting point to talk about the library outside of the library.

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  19. I work in a public library too, like you, i've been there for about 4 years. Wherever i go people come up to me and ask me about books or requests or late fees. it's quite funny.
    Everywhere i go people seem to know me, as you said i get the 'you're the library lady!' shouted at me quite a lot. it always makes me laugh.
    Love my job and love my books!!!


    i also have a blog where i review books, only just set it up. If anyone wants to check it out, go to http://beckysbarmybookblog.blogspot.com

    love your blog, :D

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