What It’s Like Working At The Library
September 5, 2019
Normally I would post about what’s going on in the gaming world but for this article, I’m going to be talking about what’s going on in town. Have you ever gone to the library and thought “Dang I wonder what their jobs are like”? If so then here’s the answer, if not then too bad I’m telling you anyway. I went down to my public library recently (at the time of posting) and scored an interview with their lead manager, and I will be telling it all word for word right here. Keep in mind that I recorded this all on my cell phone.
Me: Alright so first question. What’s it like working here at the library?
Manager: Busy. Every day’s a little different. I started out working at the Montpelier public library when I was a teenager, and it was a lot different back then when I was just a library clerk, being a library director, there are a lot of different things I’m doing. Today I’m installing phones.
Me: Alright well second question. I forgot to mention there are only ten questions.
Me: What is your favorite part about working here?
Manager: The People. I love serving the community and meeting the community when we’re short-staffed I actually get to work at the front desk and it’s very exciting now. ‘Cause mostly what I do is push paper. (chuckles)
Me: You know you’d think that working at a library wouldn’t be so busy, huh?
Manager: That’s the kind of…(sigh) what’s the word, “urban myth,” I would say. Everyone always thinks, “oh working at a library would be so relaxing, I can just sit around and read.” I have little to no time to read at all. It’s everything I can do to keep up with the professional literature, and so now I’m always quite busy.
Me: Alright, What made you want to work as a librarian?
Manager: Um, well, like I said I started out working at the Montpelier public library when I was 16, and I didn’t go to college initially to work in a library, but I kept getting costed at the Ball State library, from other students, asking me “what’s over here?” So when I started to think about what I wanted to do with my degree, which was in English, going to library school seemed like a logical conclusion so I went on to I.U. and did a two-year masters program.
Me: Uh, what’s the worst part, you would say about working at a library?
Manager: Oh, when people get upset.
Manager: Um, our ultimate goal is to serve the community and make everybody happy. Um, making everybody happy is impossible. So, um, there are times that we have to send people on the way out, and you hate to do it but our overall goal is to serve the community as a whole, and sometimes a few people do not get what the want.
Me: What is the best part of working here?
Manager: Oh, there are so many things. Right now my favorite part is we’re putting out this outdoor park outback.
Me: Yeah, I saw that.
Manager: Seeing the kids, as we add things and seeing the kids use them I’m like “yes we’re on the right path.” But yeah, enjoying that it is seeing the community happy with what we’re doing.
Me: If you were not working at a library where would you picture yourself alternatively?
Manager: I think, if I had to choose an alternative career path, I would maybe really like to open my own crafts store. That’s my primary escape when I’m not here. I love knitting, crocheting, and sewing.
Me: What are some of the positives working here?
Manager: I like seeing people over the desk. We have regulars who come in, and you really form a relationship with them.
Me: Yeah, I used to be a regular but then I got a job.
Manager: That has an effect, but, you know, it’s almost kind of like a living room and you get to see your regulars if not every day so you really get to know their schedule and you know, we’d come down there, we’d see you on your laptop and we’re like “oh yeah he’s here again.”
Me: Yeah but now I got a phone so I don’t even need the laptop.
Me: I am planning on coming here more often just to get away from my brother.
Manager: You know what, that’s just the role we play, it’s just a public place.
Me: What are some of the negatives, like some of the worst things that have happened?
Manager: There can be, not just from our patrons but from the community as a whole, pressure about how we do things a certain way and move at a certain speed. But in the end, that can get frustrating and disheartening. But in the end, I try to remind myself that we all have the same goals and I’m doing the best I can.
Me: Have you ever had a weird or bizarre thing happen to you while you were working here, and if so what was it and when?
Manager: Here specifically?
Me: No, it could be when you were working at the other library or here.
Manager: I was going to say other libraries I’ve worked in have been, I’ve worked at unit prefery library at Baltimore, Maryland, And the Casterly county public library in Castery, North Carolina, and those are very large urban libraries. So there’s always something weird going on. Ah, I’m trying to think of “what’s the weirdest,” I can think of the grossest. Okay um, here’s my favorite, in North Carolina, there were like, 9 different branches and we were the central branch. So we would have big shipments of books returning to our location, and we would have two computers sides and that’s where we would be checking books from these branches and the employee sitting next to me reaches into the bin to grab a book to check-in and screams, and we look down and there’s a snake in the bin that hitched a ride from one of the shipments.
Me: Oh god
Manager: So that was one of the funniest moments.
(Both laugh) [I’m still questioning how the snake even got in there]
Me: I assume you already run this library I was planning to ask-
Manager: up since May 15
Me: Yeah but the question was “if you ran this library what would you do differently?”
Manager: Let someone else do it. (bursts out laughing) I keep trying to get the staff to do it for me but they’re always like “no no no you’re doing fine.”
Me: Yeah, I was planning on interviewing the staff before you decided to-
Manager: It wasn’t that I decided it was like “Michelle, you’re doing this.” (laughs) I think the staff are quite happy to have me running the library. They lie having me make the big decisions, the staff are very aware that I am very much a team player. Like I said if there’s no staff I’m at the front desk, and they know I’m here to support them to do their jobs, and that job is to serve the community.
I hope that was informal to you all and helps you understand the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” (no pun intended) a little better. Leave a comment down below and tell me what you think.