Living the Library Life

The Novel Reader, by Vincent Van Gogh


“In order to be really good as a librarian, everything counts towards your work, every play you go see, every concert you hear, every trip you take, everything you read, everything you know. I don’t know of another occupation like that. The more you know, the better you’re going to be.”  – Allen Smith

If You Do What You Love, You’ll Never Work a Day in Your Life

In today’s world, it’s considered a bonus if you love your job, or even parts of your job. I’m lucky in that. I love my job, and this profession I’ve chosen. I like that I work in the public sector, in a customer/user/patron-oriented environment, helping people with both the simple and the complicated. People can talk until they’re blue in the face about the supposed “demise” of libraries, but the truth of the matter is, we (librarians, and libraries) are as necessary now as we were 100 years ago, perhaps more so. There’s so much information out in the world today and it’s a massive task to help people try to navigate it. Working in a public library makes me feel like I’m giving back to my community, and like I’m making a positive impact (if only a small one) in people’s lives.

“Most people don’t realize how important librarians are. I ran across a book recently which suggested that the peace and prosperity of a culture was solely related to how many librarians it contained. Possibly a slight overstatement. But a culture that doesn’t value its librarians doesn’t value ideas and without ideas, well, where are we?”  – Neil Gaiman

I think its a little sad that most people have no idea what librarians actually do. Their perceptions are warped by those old stereotypes of the older woman with the glasses “shushing” people. They hear library and think of a quiet, reverent environment full of the most brilliant tombs of literature. They’ve clearly not set foot in a modern library in the last 30 years (at least). Libraries are not museums. It is an environment where patrons can interact with each other, find and use materials, and where librarians encourage them to ask for help when they need it. Libraries can be fun! Programming has been significantly modernized and is designed to meet various community needs. You can find libraries in the strangest, wackiest places. Check out this link that will show you some amazing, and unusual libraries (both inside and out).

And while I will admit to being a woman who has expressed that children should be using their “inside voices” on occasion, I’m not old and I don’t wear glasses. People also have this strange notion that all we do is read books. But librarians do much more than that. I think that people might be surprised by all the activities required of librarians. Our duties fall into categories that include:

  • Reference and Information Literacy
  • Online (and in-house) Research
  • Cataloging
  • Collection Development
  • Reader’s Advisory (a personal favorite of mine)
  • Program Planning
  • Community Outreach
  • Training and Teaching
    • Professional Development
  • Technology

It’s a lot of work. But its exactly what I want to do. If you’d like to know more about the specifics of these tasks, click on the links to the corresponding sections above and learn more.

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