Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Work, Work, Work

It feels like all I do these days is work. Go to work in the reading room, go tutor my athletes, do homework, clean the house, work, work, work. I was under the impression it was summer, but maybe I got it wrong? Or maybe this is just what it means to be a grown-up? Always working, always having something to do, somewhere you have to be. Maybe now is good practice for the rest of my life.

Some people don't think that being a librarian is hard work. Another fellow librarian blogger, the always witty and sharp Annoyed Librarian, implied a few weeks ago that librarianship isn't stressful, isn't all that difficult. In the year I have been in library school, I can say that is 100% absolutely untrue. This is a very hard job. It is customer service and manual labor; problem solving and managing; crisis prevention and menial paperwork. Being a librarian, no matter what kind of library you work in, combines all these tasks. My job right now, even though it is small, has given me more insight into all the duties of a librarian than I could ever learn in the classroom. I work in a very small library (also called a reading room) for the College of Communications. My biggest tasks involve fixing the copier and checking in the enormous amounts of newspapers we get everyday. It may not be glamorous, but, hey, someone's got to do it. Because the reading room is so small, it's like working in a microcosm of an academic library. I see all the stuff that goes on in a larger library, from stealing newspapers to kicking the copier to falling asleep on the couch to doing actual work, but in a much smaller space. It has taught me so much about being a good librarian.

I think the most important skill I've been developing is helping patrons more successfully. It's different from working in a bookstore, because you aren't just helping people find a book to buy, you are assisting them with school work, solving their research questions, putting that perfect piece of information in their hands. I didn't really realize just how different it is until I started working here. It is incredibly different, but it's so much better and so much more rewarding. So maybe checking in newspapers, shelving books, putting paper in the copier, and explaining how to print for the 100th time in a day isn't all that glamorous or doesn't even seem like all that much work, but let me tell you, it's a ton of work. And it's good work. Being a librarian is a great job.

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