You might wonder what libraries and reality TV have in common. You would be surprised.
I was recently approached by a student doing a project where she was required to shadow someone in a particular profession. She wanted to shadow a librarian. It got me to thinking about what I do each day and what she would observe.
So here goes...a day in the life of a librarian...
8:30am Arrive at work. Am immediately apprised by another staff member that the toilet in the ladies' room is stopped up. Grab plunger and head for the restroom hoping my new Jimmy Choo's won't get wet (just kidding about the Jimmy Choo's - librarians can't afford them).
8:40am Toilet fixed - just needed to be flushed.
Go to office to check email. Check today's schedule to make sure we are covered. Looks good. Uh oh.
A staff member calls in sick. Call subs - no one available. Redo schedule.
9:30am Finish email. Start working on new computer classes we are offering - "Job Hunting on the Internet" and "Internet Resources for Changing Careers." Also sending out press releases for next week's programs (Family Night and Teen Programs on Wednesdays and our Saturdays at the Library ("There's Always Something Going on.")
Call from the local newspaper about our basic computer classes. "You mean there are people who don't know how to use a computer?" she asks. I tell her about the 135 students we have helped so far, many of them seniors and people whose native language is not English.
Meet with a staff member to do some brainstorming on how to deal with a couple of latchkey children who have been coming in every day.
10:00am. Open library. Open the meeting room for our ESL Talk Time which gives newcomers to the U.S. a chance to practice their English.
On the Information Desk.
A library customer alerts me to the fact that an elderly gentleman is outside asking how to get home. Bring him in. Very nice man who said he had walked all the way from his home (several miles) and couldn't remember how to get back. I ask him if it's OK for me to call a policeman to take him home. He agrees. An officer arrives and is very kind to the gentleman. Wonder if that could be me one day.
10:10am Help a customer set up a free email account.
10:20am Help a customer send his resume to an employer.
10:25am Answer the phone and find phone numbers for local low income housing.
10:30am Young girl wants to know how to take care of her gerbil. We have a couple of books (school must be out today). Any books about fairies or princesses? She jumps up and down when I produce several. So cute.
10:40am Children's librarian reminds me she has an appointment at the school. Redo the schedule.
Customer needs to sell some of her antiques. Wants to know what they are worth. She recently lost her job. Find some antique price guides and show her how to access Ebay to see if some of her items are there so she can get an idea of what to ask for them.
10:50am Question about Craigslist and how to find jobs.
So many people needing help finding jobs. Glad to have mine.
11:00am Busy at the circulation desk. This morning's Family Story Time just finished. Helped register some new borrowers. Told them about our free programs, free DVDs and music CDs. They were really happy because they had missed the deadline to upgrade their TV and could only watch videos. Thanked me for the wonderful story times we provided.
11:10am Back in my office. Received a call from the Senior Group inviting me to come talk to the group about programs seniors would enjoy. Good. I can talk about our book groups, our upcoming "History of American Popular Song" program and our "Jane Austen Alternative Film Series." They also wanted me to share some information about the upcoming Library levy election on November 3rd.
11:20am Had been approached by a teacher from the Edmonds Community College who wanted me to come to her ESL class to do a presentation about library resources in languages other than English and also about our ESL Talk Time Program. Her class is winding down and she is hoping some of her students will continue in our program. I can also tell them about our new citizenship classes. So leave the library to make this lunch time presentation.
2:00pm. Return from presentation. Back in office. Receive call from staff member. Family emergency. Can't make her evening shift. Redo schedule.
2:30pm It's the beginning of the month, so begin work on the usual beginning of the month stuff - statistics, time sheets, Library Board Report, Calendar of Events for December (no wonder I never know what month it is - I am always two months ahead mentally), schedules, publicity, press releases, upcoming meetings.
2:35pm Alerted by staff that toilet in ladies' room stopped up again. Leave office to investigate. Grab plunger. (Didn't learn this in library school).
2:40pm Back in office. Staff report that a man is lying on his back in the men's room. Send male staff member into men's room. Wondering if I am going to have to do CPR. Both emerge. He was doing back exercises. Told him he was alarming customers so should work on his back outside. Recognize him as a "regular."
2:45pm Back to work on deadline items. Staff report that the mouse on computer 20 is not working. Emerge from office. Reboot computer.
2:50 Back in office. Shut door.
3:30pm Make some headway on administrative tasks. Back out in the library. Working with the collection - pulling outdated and shabby materials so shelves will look inviting. Approached by several young customers looking for homework help. Find needed materials and tell them about the live Homework Help on our website.
4:00pm Back on the Information Desk. A fellow taking a business class tells me he has to find local companies with fewer than 20 employees. He said his teacher told the class about a database on our web site, but he can't remember it. I show him RefUSA - "That's it!, he says." It has all kinds of information about a company, right? I show him how to search by zip code and limit his search to the number of employees.
4:15 Regular customer comes in to find books his mother would like. Asks about some authors and I take him back to the fiction section. I recommend some titles. He tells me how much he likes the library -- "You are the Nordstrom of libraries..." he says. That feels good.
4:30pm A group of teens enter the library and head for the Teen Room. On their way they ask when the next gaming day will be. I tell them it's happening right now, and that we have teen programs every Wednesday at 4pm. I smile at the cat ears and pink net tutu one of the teens is wearing.
Check on Teen program. In full swing. Our meeting room is full of teens playing Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Everyone is having a good time including the Teen Librarian.
5:00pm Is it 5:00 already? Forgot to have lunch... Evening shift staff arrive. I note that both meeting rooms being used tonight by community groups. Everything seems to be running smoothly. Getting ready to head home...
Staff member reports that the toilet... Sigh...