Library Surprises

Today was my last day at the library I’ve been working at for the last three months (and the library system I’ve been working at for a year and three months). I am starting a new position in a new library system next week, but as I reflect on what my first positions in the library field have shown me, I thought I’d do a quick post about some of the things that surprised me the most about working in a library.

Beautiful Austrian Library – It’d be amazing to work somewhere like this!
Photo from: Wikipedia – Library

Note that these thoughts pertain mostly to my experiences in the library so far. My new position could be totally different!

– The Tea – You know how in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Giles is always drinking tea? I thought that would be a great thing, to be able to drink tea all the time at work. But I never thought it’d actually happen. And, well, I was wrong. I can’t believe how much tea I’ve drank while working! Pretty much every day, in fact. It is such a comfort to have a nice hot cup of tea sitting on your desk, even if you only get to drink half of it because the library is so busy. It’s just something that makes the day that extra bit brighter, =)

Don’t worry, we don’t drink blood…I just love this picture!
Photo from: xalwaysdreamx.wordpress.com

– The randomness – I’ve worked a number of jobs during my schooling, mostly retail, and a few school board positions. So I know that sometimes you do random things at work. But I have still been surprised at how many random things I find myself doing at the library. Climbing up ladders, sitting on the floor, crawling on hands and knees. Dressing up in costume, singing songs, getting my face painted. Discussions with patrons about the oddest topics, making giant snowflakes, bakery runs, watching a parade from the programming room. I can’t even remember half of the random things I’ve done at the library, but quite often I’ve found myself laughing at how strange my days have been. =)

– The conflict between past and future – There is a huge conflict in the library world about whether libraries need to keep the traditions of the past, or drop those traditions and create a new identity for the future. I personally believe we need to compromise between both, but that’s a hard balance to have. In my library system, I saw this conflict a lot both in the services we offered, and in the make-up of the staff. There are a lot of staff members that work in the library as a laid-back way to make money after they’ve retired from their career or after their kids have gone to school. And there are also a lot of staff members like me who have extensive education in the library field, and plan for this to be our full-on career. I’m not saying one group does anything better than the other, but we do things differently, and we view changes differently. It’s a tremendously difficult thing to bring everyone together when planning for the future of the library.

Photo from: library.drexel.edu

– The community bond – I know that libraries are important to their communities. But it was still a surprise to experience this first hand. The patrons of the library can be so connected with the library and its staff, it’s wonderful! Patrons who come in to the library with their children, and who have been coming to the same library since they themselves were little. Patrons who know all of the staff members not just from work, but from other community activities, too. The amount of presents at Christmas, and baked goods and fresh fruits and vegetables from gardens and other goodies that we get from patrons is astounding. Even some patrons, when they go on vacation, bring us something back! It’s crazy to see how important the library is to some people, and I’m so happy I get to be a part of that kind of connection!

I am so excited to start my new position, which I’m sure will be both similar and completely different. I’ll be interested to see what kinds of things I notice next!

2 Responses so far.

  1. congrats on the new positition! must be exciting. wonder what new things you'll discover at your new library! happy new year!
  2. Mere Joyce says:
    Thank you! Yes, I am definitely looking forward to it, and I'm sure I'll see tons of new and exciting things, =)

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