Saturday, 26 July 2008

Reflections of a First-Year Librarian

As I embark on my second year as a librarian, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what was a fantastic first year. Often I found myself wondering why I didn't become a librarian years ago. It felt like such a natural switch and the best kept secret as the most fun job on campus.

Here is what I learned:

1. Just about every kid loves coming to the library. You can't really go wrong (unless you are grumpy, but let's not be!) with the library, and that was a blast for me.

2. Little touches really do make a huge difference! Delivering books directly to the classrooms, going the extra mile for a teacher who needs help, bending the rules on checkout limits, all these things helped me develop solid relationships with teachers, kids and parents, and they greatly appreciated my efforts.

3. Hardly anyone uses the online catalog! This was surprising to me, and I aim to figure out ways to get more people using them next year. Instead, everyone comes to me (even teachers!), which is not a bad thing, but it can get crazy if I'm fielding tons of questions.

4. I learned that people get really fired up if they think they have returned a book and our system says they didn't. I learned early on to just nod my head and say, "Don't worry about it. We'll find the book" while they insisted they returned it. Many, many times, they wound up finding the book themselves at home and returned the next day with the book in hand, tail between their legs a bit. It definitely made me glad I didn't get defensive.

5. Lots of people think librarians do nothing. I myself was surprised with the amount of managerial work involved in being a librarian. I love that kind of stuff, but a lot of time is spent behind a computer entering data or helping people look things up, or searching for information, so it may appear that librarians are not working. I made a conscious effort to not be offended by this but instead make people aware of what I was doing to again work on developing the relationships.

6. On a comical note, I learned that I am the librarian no matter where I am. In the grocery store one night, I heard a tiny kindergarten voice say, "that's the library lady!" I smiled all the way home because I love being the library lady.

Can't wait to begin my brand-new job as a library lady AND a tech lady in just a few days at the International School of Bangkok.


MrsE said...

What you said rings true for me after 24 years as a school librarian.

Attitude is everything.

They ALWAYS say they've returned the book. And once in a blue moon they have.

There will always be people who think you have 'the cushy' job. But you work darned hard to make it look so easy!

When people ask me for help finding a book I often reply, "What did the card catalogue tell you?"

Love your blog!
The WebFooted BookLady
Lesley Edwards

IMC Guy said...

I'm starting my 5th year in an elementary library and what you've learned is so true - especially 2,3, and 4.

I love the tech part more than the book part, so I'll be curious to see how that part of the job goes for you. Have fun!

Anonymous said...

I remember a little girl who was continually misplacing books and would eventually have to put her little hands into her piggy bank and buy the book. It was usually found somewhere in or around the house at a later time. Maybe that was her early efforts to build her own library.

The Library Lady's Mother

Red said...

Tara -

I just found this great little website that I think could be a fun tool in school - Am passing it along to you to see what you think of it.

Perhaps you already know it?

Marcia said...

Amen to everything you said. I am a high school librarian and I love my job.