Just prior to my last semester of my graduate program, I considered dropping out and going to school for Library Science. I don’t regret that I ultimately decided to stay, but I’m glad that I’m finally pursuing my dream of becoming a librarian.
It’s been a few weeks since I started as a part-time librarian and I look forward to every single shift.
On my first or second day, I was charged with taping paper labeled with a letter of the alphabet and an image starting with that letter to old encyclopedias. The goal was to organize the children’s section so that the authors were clearly divided into sections corresponding with the first letter of their last name, to make it easier for children and their parents to find books in those sections.
I had so much fun doing this, and this is one picture of the result:
My next couple of days were less exciting, but still interesting. My boss charged me with shelf-reading. Shelf reading means you look through the shelves of an entire section, one book at a time, making certain that all the books are organized correctly.
My assigned section? Paperback fiction. And at my library, this section doesn’t contain all paperbacks. A good many paperbacks are stored in the regular adult fiction section. No, this section seemed to be designated for trashy romance novels almost exclusively checked out by elderly female patrons. No judgements. Honest.
Still, I found a way to make that task fun. I actually enjoy shelf-reading. And it definitely takes me longer when I enjoy the section I’m shelf-reading like young adult fiction or adult fiction… or even non-fiction, in most of the sections.
I’m trying to memorize the Dewey Decimal system so I can get better at helping patrons find books that they’re looking for.
Typical questions from patrons are random. Varying from when we’ll get tax forms in to model railroads to requests for book recommendations similar to books I’ve never heard of before. I learn new things from patrons all the time. I learned about a Haitian author named Edwidge Danticat, for example. I learn where various topics can be found within the Dewey Decimal classification.
Dinosaurs are in the 500s (Science & Math), specifically in the 560s. I know because I got to make this awesome dinosaur display for the children!
My favorite part about the library is the programming. Engaging with the community and developing things like book clubs, anime club, teen advisory councils, etc. At my library, in the Teen Room, we have a Wii and an Xbox that the teenagers can use. Isn’t that awesome?
And I get to make awesome displays:
I got to decide on this category, because my librarian wanted an update in the teen section. I love coming-of-age stories, so I made a section for that. I didn’t want to call it anything cheesy like, “Coming of Age” or “Growing Pains.” Bleh. I wouldn’t have even stopped to look at the books with that name for a category when I was a teenager. I thought this was a cute idea. The feels!
I also got to make the women’s history month section. I’ll have better ideas for next year, but for my first one I think Rosie the Riveter and the classic “Women’s History Month” title is fine. I didn’t just choose books about feminism or women’s history, but books written by female leaders- from Elizabeth Warren to Tina Fey. I also decided to have most of the books be fiction, written by award-winning female authors.
I love my job. I look forward to it. It makes me so happy, every moment I’m there. There are some times when I get slightly overwhelmed by multiple patrons asking me a million questions at the same time when I’m alone at the desk. And I wish that I could learn how to catalogue and be trusted with that, but they don’t teach part-timers.
I’ve also learned how to register someone for a library card, renew their library card, help patrons with printing, and check out passes to the zoo to patrons. And I’m pretty great at searching for books and placing them on hold for patrons as well.
I love my job, I love my life. I can’t wait to earn my Master’s in Library and Information Science and one day be a real librarian!!!