I Work at a Public Library but…

 

Currently, I’m a public assistant at my public library. Basically, this means that I assist with morning delivery (checking in returned items from other locations, fulfilling holds, and emptying the bookdrops), answering basic reference questions, helping with patrons with the computers (printing, resumes, etc.), checking items out to people, and doing collection maintenance (a fun way of saying I check to see if books need to be discarded because they are outdated or in poor condition). I’ll admit the library is a huge part of who I am. Whenever someone asks me to tell them about myself, I tend to launch into my “library story”, which is basically me saying that I started working at the public library when I was 17 as a student assistant, and now at 23, I am a public service assistant who is just a few credits shy of having her MLIS (WOOOO!).

As I said on a date, I’m studying to be a “Punk-Ass Book Jockey”. (Thanks, Leslie Knope).

*The guy didn’t get the reference.

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So, yeah, I work in a public library and it’s a huge part of who I am. It’s pretty safe to assume that I love to read, but there is more to me than that….

I WORK AT A PUBLIC LIBRARY BUT….

  1. I don’t read classic literature (often).

Yeah. I’m not a fan of the classics. I read quite a few in high school and despised nearly all of them with a passion. This tends to come as a shock when I meet other bookworms, especially ones that are intrigued with my (almost) librarian job. I’m not sure what it is about classic literature, but I’m not a fan. The only books I really enjoyed were Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad), Hamlet (Shakespeare), The Bell Jar (Sylvia Plath), and Dracula (Bram Stocker). I won’t list every classic book that made me roll my eyes, but I’ll list a few since that seems fair. Great Expectations (freaking Charles Dickens), Frankenstein (Mary Shelley *I wanted to love it!*), Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck), and Lord of the Flies (William Golding). I love seeing jaws drop when I tell people that I don’t care for Steinbeck’s work, that Frankenstein was a chore to read, or that Great Expectations was a major let down. Classics just aren’t my thing, though the few that I love I tend to read over and over.

2. I’m guilty of having dog-eared pages.

I pinkie promise that I NEVER dog-ear library books (well maybe I have a couple times) . It’s a horrible habit that took me years to break, and I sometimes still do it. If not that, then I tend to fold the corners of pages forward and backward while I read because I have a hard time sitting still. It is a huge bookish sin and one I am very guilty of.

3. I hate “sexy librarian” comments.

I don’t understand why those are even a thing. As much as I love talking about working in a library and being an almost-librarian, part of my soul dies whenever someone inevitably smirks as says, “so, are you, like, a sexy librarian?”
It’s degrading, rude, and annoying.

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4. I’ve gone through three library cards.

I got my first library card when I was 4 or 5, and lost it to the washing machine when I was 12. The second card vanished by the time I was 16, and now I guess I can say third time’s the charm. Whenever patrons come in to the library all embarrassed over losing their card, I always tell them that it happens to the best of us. I’ve gone through 3 and I won’t be surprised if I lose this card, too.

5. Speaking of forgetting…. I leave my DVDs in the player all the time.

When someone returns a DVD without a disc, we call it a snag. Patrons are always embarrassed to get the phone call that basically says, “hey, friend, you returned -whatever DVD- to our branch without the disc. We renewed the item for you. Please bring the disc in when you have a chance”…. If you have ever been the person to get this phone call, please know that staff do this too. So many times I’ve gotten to work, gone to check a movie in, and BAM. Missing disc. We’re all guilty. It happens. It’s fine.

6. I have access to so many free movies and shows (physical copies and e-media), but I still have Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.

I’m not proud of this fact.

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7. I like to do things other than read…

I love reading. A lot. I read every day and make a goal to read 100 books a year. BUT…. I enjoy other things like binge watching t.v. shows, going on hikes, eating concerning amounts of sushi, and baking.

FUN FACT: I was torn between library school and going to culinary school to be a pastry chef.

8. I am not that anti-social

 A better way to put this might be to say that I really don’t fit every library stereotype. Yes, I love reading (see above), but I also love hanging out with my friends and doing other things. I cherish my alone time and solitude, but I do like adventures and meeting new people.

9. I have never ‘shushed’ someone.

Libraries aren’t places of absolute silence anymore. Chances are, if you go into a public library, you’re gonna hear some noise. It could be noise from a music program, a story time, or just people chatting in general. We try to keep the noise under control, but ‘shushing’ just seems rude.

FUN FACT: My coworkers have been ‘shushed’ by a patron before. Now that was awkward.

10. I think the Internet is a great resource (to an extent)

People assume that librarians and library employees are anti-technology. That is completely false.

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Technology has helped libraries grow! From time to time, someone will say that the Internet is taking over libraries. That’s not true. For some people, libraries are the only places they have free access to the Internet. Not everyone is tech-literate, so they need help navigating Google. Also, with FAKE NEWS becoming a bigger and bigger issue, the Internet is proving to be a bit more complicated. Information professionals are working really hard to find reliable resources for their patrons. With the Internet, libraries have been able to put more reliable information on their websites through databases and other forms of virtual reference. IT’S REALLY AWESOME.

11. I still buy books.

I like having a bookcase full of books to call my own (that way I can dog-ear them like crazy). I subscribe to book boxes, order off used book websites, and browse my local bookstore from time to time. I always spend way too much money, but it’s worth it. I love borrowing books, and I’m grateful that I get to, but when I really love a book…. I’m gonna go buy it. Or sometimes I’m going to treat myself a buy a book just for the hell of it.

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12. Speaking of bookshelves…. MINE ARE COMPLETE CHAOS.

Most libraries organize their books by author’s last name, then the title of the book. Bookstores organize books by category. My best friend organizes her books by color. I…. just kind of throw my books wherever they fit. My bookcases would probably make any bookworm cry. There’s no rhyme or reason to them.

13. I don’t just “sit around and read all day”.

It’s funny that working at the library means having almost no time to read. I cringe a bit whenever someone makes a comment like, “I should have been a librarian. I would love to get paid to sit around and read all day”.

That’s not quite how the job works, but, hey, I wish I could get paid to sit around and read all day, too.

14. I’m not evil (I promise).

The media loves to portray librarians as rude, unapproachable, and crazy spinsters. Sometimes they’re made out to be the antagonists of stories. I do my best not to be rude, and I genuinely love helping people. I work in a public library because I love work with people and help them, whether it’s finding a book, printing out an assignment, or finding the correct form. I love my job and pride myself on providing the best customer service I can give.

On Parks and Recreation, Leslie Knope said: “The library is the worst group of people ever assembled in history. They’re mean, conniving, rude, and extremely well-read, which makes them very dangerous”.

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*I promise we’re actually very friendly. 🙂

I work at a public library….. but I’m still human. I make mistakes, I can’t always alphabetize correctly, and I love Parks and Rec despite the library hate.

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Kidding, kidding. I’m very average.

Love, always,

Syl.

 

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