Library Life: “It Must be so Nice to Sit Around and Read All Day”

Library Life: “It Must be so Nice to Sit Around and Read All Day”

I think it’s a right of passage in the library world to have someone tell you how nice it must be to have a job where you can sit around and read all day. Bonus points if they tell you that they should have been a librarian because they love to read and talk about books all day.

*For this post, I’ll be illustrating my point through Brooklyn Nine-Nine gifs. Guys, I’m really liking this show*

And as a librarian, or any library employee, you’ll probably sit there, jaw hanging like:


Followed by:


Because you know that we don’t sit around and read all day.

That book at the front desk? Yeah, it’s mostly just there for decoration. The chances I’ll read any of it today are very slim.

Confession: Some days are slower and I can read at the desk. Everyone has their opinions on reading while at the front desk. I like it because it tends to be a great conversation starter with patrons in regards to reader advisory. However, I also firmly believe that one should be paying attention to their surroundings constantly. Getting too into a book and therefore ignoring patrons isn’t cool or professional.

Anyway…. back to my opinion piece.

Basically, librarians and library employees are super busy people. For reference I wanted to share “A Day in the Life” from my perspective. While you might see me with a book at the desk (99% chance it’s just chilling, not being read), there are many things that make up my day. Spoiler: reading for fun isn’t really part my typical day.


A Day in the Life (but not entirely in order…and not always every day…but you get the point, librarians are busy).

  1. Coffee, coffee, coffee. The fuel that gets me through the day.
    • giphy-20
  2. E-mails. SO MANY E-MAILS. Gotta check those first thing in the morning. Higher ups, coworkers, and teachers are frequently sending various e-mails. Sometimes they’re just about simple changes or general questions. Other times, e-mails can be a bit more complex with lots of back and forth. The point is, e-mail eats up quite a bit of time because communication is so crucial in the library world.
  3. Gotta check the voice mail!
    • I’m a children’s librarian and I visit a few schools for outreach. Teachers and caregivers are often calling to schedule those visits or to request books. Of course, other people can call and leave messages that need to be responded to. Again, communication is so important.
  4. Morning delivery.
    • Indoor bookdrop, outdoor bookdrop, getting the newspapers ready, and the crates filled with our materials that were returned to other library branches. We check materials in, fill holds, clear old holds from the shelf, and make any needed calls about missing DVD or CD discs. (We’ve all returned a movie without the disc. It happens).
  5. Banking!
    • I count the money in the cash register every morning and then prepare it to go to the bank. Sometimes I’m the one running to the bank. I love every part of my job, but the standing in line at the bank part is probably my least favorite.
  6. Scheduling.
    • I make the desk schedule for the day so everyone knows when they’re on and off desk. This also involves scheduling who is doing the holds and who is going to serve snack to the after school kiddos. Doing this also involves remembering who is in and out of the building at what times, when lunches/dinners are, etc. Some days, the desk schedule is super easy. Other days, it feels like the world’s most complicated puzzle.
  7. The Bookshelves
    • Displaying books, weeding old books, and just keeping this nice and neat.
      • Displaying books is more than just throwing any book on a display table. I  consider themes, representation, and what my patrons might be interested in.
  8. Outreach
    • This is one of my (many) favorite parts about my job! I get to venture out into the community with a bag of books, my flannel board, props, and music and read to children. I go to multiple schools (some see me twice a month) and usually visit 3 classrooms within my visit. It’s great because it lets me interact with the kiddos outside of the library (not all of them can get there), helps me get to know the community, and it gives the teachers a 30-45 minute break while the kids and I read books. I absolutely love outreach.
    • terry-crews.gif
      Me during all outreach
  9. Storytime (in house)
    • It’s more than just reading kids stories! My in house storytimes help me connect with families, provide them with library resources and events they might not know about, and give them early literacy tips. Plus, it’s super fun for the kiddos. We sing, read, rhyme, do flannel boards, dance, and have playtime. Setting up for storytime takes some time. I like putting out flyers with library information, keychains with nursery rhymes, name tags for the kiddos to practice their writing, and I like to put out books that go with the theme for storytime. Before storytime starts, caregivers can read the books to their kids and then check them out after storytime is over.
  10. Tech help
    • Believe it or not, you have to be somewhat tech savvy to work in a library. Computer, tablet, copy machine, printing, faxing, e-mail, and scanning questions are pretty much nonstop. I definitely get my 10,000 steps in by racing from computer to computer trying to help patrons with their various tech needs.
    • 5ff0ba298c86cfb52c8d56c18bef622d
      pls don’t hit library computers. Yes, I’ve seen this happen.
  11. Phone calls (front desk)
    • Libraries strive to meet their patrons’ needs, even remotely. The phones ring quite a bit, and some questions take longer than others. Renewing items over the phone is pretty common, but we also get detailed reference questions about anything and everything. Sometimes I spend the better part of my desk shift answering questions on the phone.
  12. Snack time
    • Not for the staff, of course. We serve an after-school snack to the kiddos who are in the building from about 3-4. With snack also comes activities that vary from day to day. The other week, I let the kids paint. Sometimes we play with LEGOs. We might just color or play some board games. Other times we conduct science experiments with baking soda and vinegar. It’s funny, messy, and sometimes a bit loud.
  13. Reference questions
    • The purpose of being at the desk is to be readily available to answer questions. People come up to the desk with a question or two or fifty, and I do my best to answer everything and help them find the information they need.
  14. Unexpected
    • Incidents
      • Except the unexpected, and incidents tend to fall in that category. From inappropriate behavior, teens fighting, to everything in between…. Thankfully, my library has a police officer for the majority of the day to help when things get rough. The incident reports (paperwork), however, take quite a while.
    • Short staffed
      • It happens. Being short-staffed usually just means more desk time for everyone, and it takes a little longer to get morning delivery done. But this eats up time and it makes for fewer people to help answer questions when we get busy.
    • Bed bugs and other creepy crawlies
      • Do I need to say more? We have procedures in place for this, but it’s still gross and time consuming, We have to double bag all infected materials and send them to get “zapped” with intense heat to kill the bed bugs. We also have to check the immediate area in case we find more. Yuck.
      • d0i9dyojebz01.gif
        Me every time we find a bedbug
        “Sylvia, is this a bedbug or a tick?” – My coworker in reference to the bug on the counter (it was a bedbug)

        **side note, bedbugs are everywhere – not just the library. It doesn’t happen too often, but they’re yucky bugs and I hate dealing with them.


  15. Research
    • Librarians are research experts. Whether its helping a patron research something or looking up articles for our own work, we’re often searching for something in the academic world. While in graduate school, research made my head pound. Now that I know what I’m doing, it’s one of my favorite things to work on because there’s so much to be done.
  16. Planning
    • I plan for programs, storytimes, outreach, meetings – you name it. Planning can involve reaching out to other librarians, community groups, schools, etc. It also includes gathering supplies, organizing, and getting everything ready in general – all while on a very tight budget.
  17. Programming
    • If I’m not on desk or visiting a school, there’s a good chance that I’m running a program, like my Monster Tea party that I blogged about in October. Programming is more than just entertaining kiddos for a couple hours. I try to incorporate different methods of learning for their age groups.
  18. Asking for help
    • There comes a point where I hit a wall in trying to solve a tech problem. That means calling IT and often sitting on the phone with them. IT is super helpful and amazing, but some tech issues take quite a while to solve.
    • giphy-21.gif
  19. Training
    • There’s always training to do because there’s always more to learn. Webinars and in-person training are crucial to the job.
  20. Meetings
    • Everyone has meetings. Some days I feel like I’m running from meeting to meeting, taking notes, trying to contribute, etc. They’re tiring and constant, but I always learn something new.

Me at the end of the day:

I’m exhausted all the time

Librarians already have blah stereotypes. People think we’re old, grumpy spinsters who like to “shush” people all day. Trust me, we wish we could just sit around and read all day too, but there’s too much work to be done and helping people is the most important part of my day. My job is fun. It keeps me on my toes, always has me thinking, and I’m always learning new things. I leave work feeling tired and accomplished.

But I’ll always cringe when someone tells me how nice it must be to sit around and read all day.



4 thoughts on “Library Life: “It Must be so Nice to Sit Around and Read All Day”

      1. Yeah! I never read books while working in libraries. If I was supposed to be on my feet all the time, I would be tidying the books. If I was at a desk, there’d be other stuff to get on with!

        Liked by 1 person

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