Oct 6, 2013

Being a Librarian.

I fear my heart will burst if I do not fill you in on the details of my library job soon. This job is technically not really a job. I did apply for a full time job at the library after I had only worked there one day.....silly me.... but they hired someone who had already worked at the library for five years so I did not get the job. But that was okay I was not sure how 37 hours a week was going to work in my life anyway. So I have been enjoying being a substitute librarian for the last five or six weeks. I happened to become a substitute librarian at a really fortunate time. The Westfield Atheneaum had two people find different jobs and leave the library and this has left all sorts of hours for me. It is giving me a false sense of reality but I am just going to ride the wave and enjoy it. I am consistently getting over 60 hours every two weeks. I have yet to find something I do not like about working at the library. Well actually I do sort of hate taking my 15 minute breaks that are required.....I know what is wrong with me?

What do I do at the library all day? Well thanks for asking, let me see if I can do it all justice with my words. First, it is of utmost importance, that I tell you what I wear. Every morning I get up and put on a dress, or a skirt, and a cardigan....occasionally a pair of nice pants but I love wearing dresses and skirts and tights so it is pretty much guaranteed that that is what I choose to wear. I almost always wear my hair in a side ponytail.

Some days I work downstairs in the Boys and Girls Library and some days I work upstairs in the Adult Library. When I get to work my job is to be at the front desk of the department I am in the entire time and that means I spend my day....

Checking people's books out to them.
Helping people find a book. Can I ever find the words to explain the joy that comes from finding them the book they are going to die if they do not have right away.
Checking books in and sorting them into large print, nonfiction, fiction, young adult etc so they can be put away.
Listening to people who are 100% sure they returned a book and looking up their account, checking the shelves for the book, and then trying to help them to not feel so sad about paying the fines if I can not find it.
Issuing new library cards.
Renewing things people can't find or have not finished with.
Breaking the bad news to people that they have no renewals left and being strong when they pull the sad puppy dog face on me.
Calling them if they return a dvd case with the dvd missing.
Helping them place a hold on something from another library. It astounds me how many people do not know you can do this. I love seeing the joy when I tell them it is true :)
Looking up peoples favorite author to see if they have written anything new.
Helping them find a new author since they have read everything their favorite author has written.
Telling them where the bathroom is.
Listening to cute little old people's life stories.
Hearing about why their item they are returning is damaged.

The best part for me is being at the adult desk when the inter library loans come in. Every day around one o'clock a truck brings boxes of books that our patrons have put on hold from all over Massachusetts. And we check them in to the computer and it prints us a receipt telling us who the book is for and if we need to call them or if they automatically got an email telling them it had arrived. Most days there are quite a few stacks of these holds to check in and I deeply adore this project. I feel a little bad if the other librarians want to do this when I am there because I really love doing it. I grab our basket of rubber bands and gleefully check these things in and wrap the receipt around them with the rubber bands and then put them on the hold shelf in alphabetical order. I love that this process I guess maybe because it has a clear beginning and a clear end? I love knowing that all these people have been anxiously waiting for their holds and they are going to be so excited to come and get them. Maybe I love it so much because I like to be kept busy? Maybe it is the satisfying sound of that receipt being printed? :)

It is amazing to me how many people come into the library and have not been into a library in years and have never had a card. Then on the other hand it is also fascinating to me how many people come into the library every single day and know how many resources are in the library and hang out with us for hours. There is this one guy who I swear he runs his business out of our library. People are always meeting him there and he is always chatting with us and using the computers and printer and checking out dvd's.....I wonder if he is a mob boss? :) I love meeting all the different personalities. It is amazing to me the ones that know they have 10 cents of fines on their card and it stresses them out and they want to pay it immediately and then there are the ones who are shocked to hear they owe a fine and need to know why, and when, and want to debate about it and hopefully not pay it. There are the patrons who want to watch you check their books in. There are the ones who don't care and plunk them in the return box. I love learning what is trending right now in books. Which authors everyone likes.

It is pure torture for me to watch all these books and dvd's go out that I want to read. Just when I thought I had read everything :) I need to start keeping my notebook close by so I can write down the names of books I want to read. We are not supposed to make any comments to our patrons about what they are checking out and that is pure torture. I sometimes can not resist the urge to tell them I have read it and it is great or to ask them where they found what they are taking out. It is weird that I know who has paperback romance addictions and who is studying the crusades and who needs large print and who is building a stone wall.

I have had people hand me things they are bringing back and tell me that the content in the dvd or book is shocking and very, very bad and that it should not be on our shelves and I was alarmed to realize as I asked the other librarians about it that we can do absolutely nothing about that. I also can not say anything if a little kid brings me a rated R movie that they want to check out. I understand and yet I do not understand :) We do not limit your choices that is for sure :)

I really like all the ladies I work with at the library. All their different personalities and different ways of approaching things make me smile. I see all their different strengths and weaknesses and how they compliment each other. I am not sure if they understand that because they are in the thick of dealing with each other. I love that all of us have a rubber band or two as a bracelet when we are at work.

This job is bringing me so much happiness I keep trying to not think about the fact that I am only a substitute. I hope a position opens up that is more permanent. It would be nice to have predictable hours.

I confess that the validation I am getting from working is pretty amazing. I have never had people compliment me on who I am like this before. I was shocked to hear someone use the word smart to describe me the other day. I wondered if they could write a statement declaring it and sign it...please? :) I need to show it to my 8th grade math teacher :) I was stunned when someone described me as a quick learner. WHAT? They are so kind about my personality, friendliness, and hard worker skills.I have never known these things about myself or used these words to describe myself. When you are a mom people around you are not overly inclined to tell you how smart it was of you to make breakfast for dinner. Or tell you how they love how you grounded that person in a most friendly way. Or notice how outgoing you are as you fold socks. I am still trying to get used to the compliments and observations and not let them go to my head. But it definitely makes me love work. Imagine if the family caught on ? :)


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