Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day in the Life of The Shushing Librarian - Part 2

Even though I do have the ability to do work from my home and while on the road, my work day really gets going once I get to the Library.

My non-public work space has expanded. I needed more cabinet space for my reference materials and more surface space to cover up with papers. Right now it is all neat and clean, but just out of sight are stacks and stacks of books, periodicals, catalogs, requisition forms, information search/reference interview questionnaires and research, and the dreaded budget spreadsheets that all conspire to dwarf me.

I'm kind of glad that this photo was taken, to remind me what my desk used to look like.
My computer also had to be replaced. This is the new fancy laptop that I have purchased to use for work purposes. You read that right. I PURCHASED MY OWN WORK COMPUTER. Budgets being such that they are in the library world, I was on a long long list, and the old clunker we were babying along just couldn't deal with all the software updates that are constantly going on in the cyberworld. We try to keep the updated technology "out front" for the patrons and we struggle along behind the scenes.
Anyway, these are just some of the semi-archaic tools that we use to keep
the information pipeline going for our patrons. (There are actually pipes, don'chaknow?!)
Librarian humor aside. I do love my profession. It's more than shushing and gathering fines.
Though, don't get me wrong, fines are important. They are a tiny tiny drop in the budget that we use to purchase new materials and keep the collection current, maintain subscriptions to the papers, People, Time, and Sports Illustrated, not to mention all those on-line databases students need these days.

If we didn't have fines, what are the odds that you would even TRY to return that Nora Roberts book or that
Mad Men DVD on time? (Yeah, I didn't think so.)
But I digress. Collecting fines aren't my main duties. In addition to the administration tasks, meetings, advocacy, and general day-to-day stuff like e-mails, phone calls, and some cataloging (to keep my hand in), I primarily am a Reference Librarian, which means I'm supposed to be helping people research things.

While I'm "on the floor", aka working out in the public area shushing raucous teenagers, directing people to the bathrooms, unjamming the copier for the upteemth millionth time AFTER I put paper in the machine and show you where the change machine is, or asking you to turn off the ringing cell phone, or telling you (FOR THE %@#% LOVE OF PETE) to kindly watch your toddler as this is NOT a babysitting service, I'm also trying to answer your many varied and interestingly odd questions.

Here are some of my tips, from one Information Professional to another:

SNACKS ARE IMPORTANT: Keep those saline levels up, but remember
to balance out the stress eating with some healthy snacks.
DON'T GET HIJACKED by the cute kids,
Or you'll get swarmed by the stroller set and you'll have nightmares about Storytimes run amok.
Our patrons have a lot to teach us.

How else would we learn about such diverse things as sculptures made out of scraps (Welded sculpture 20th century) or The Horse Whisperer (the book, motion picture, or soundtrack?)
Literature can be transporting: Treasure Island, anyone? Who doesn't want to pretend to be a pirate? ARGH! Avast ye hearties.
Where else can you help that little 5 year old learn about dinosaurs, and then see them grow into readers, seekers, and scientists? You can go on that journey with them, or turn them loose to explore different worlds or subjects, just by keeping your ears open, your eyes out for the curious or very shy, and a ready smile on your face.Now, I know that sometimes that's hard, as the public (OR the boss) can be a real T REX...
or if you have to look up one more equine fact, you'll end up a basket case, but
it's important to find your own coping mechanisms and to find that elusive work/life balance.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of A Day in the Life of The Shushing Librarian where I talk about what I do once I leave the Library, so I stay a sane and semi-well adjusted librarian action figure. (Aside from all of my Adventures and side-jobs!)

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