6 WORST things about working at a library!

Some of you may remember that I started working at my local library towards the end of last year. I’m an Adult/Teen Services and Reference Librarian. I LOVE my job. It’s basically my dream job, but no job is perfect, right? (Related, if you know of any perfect jobs, hmu in the comments). Now that I’ve been there for about 6 months, I’ve noticed some things that are…not so fun about being a librarian.

1. You get sick more often

Just working with the public means that you’re coming into contact with a lot of different people and a lot of different germs. We have these huge bottles of hand sanitizer at the reference desk which I utilize often, but still. Since I’ve started, I’ve probably had like 4 minor colds and 1 major one. I made sure to get my flu shot, but it’s still a little worrisome since I’ve got a baby at home and I’m trying not to bring home any extra germs if I can help it. I always sanitize right before I leave work and wash my hands first thing when I get home.

2. Being surrounded by books all the time

This may not sound like a big deal–it might even sound like the best thing in the world! (Who am I kidding? It kind of is). But, being surrounded by books all day means that my TBR just grows and grows and grows. All the time, I find myself coming home with books that I wasn’t planning on picking up and adding them to my already enormous stack of library books.

3. Having to remind patrons of library policies

Oof. This is the hardest one for me. I do not like confrontation at all but there are times when we do have to approach a patron and ask them to follow our library rules. An example: our second floor is our quiet floor (there are signs posted literally EVERYWHERE) and you’re asked not to talk above a whisper or answer your phones on that floor, but you can totally do those things on our first floor. Well, despite our plethora of signs, people routinely break that rule and I have to shush them. 75% of the time, they’re really good about it, but some people get so grumpy! I’ve also had experiences with other, more concerning behaviors and it is NOT fun. I envy Circulation, because they don’t have to deal with this.

4. Maintaining a balanced collection even if you don’t personally agree with materials

The other day I was looking through a list of books from my collection that have gone “missing”. One of the titles is clearly on the racist end of the spectrum, but when I looked it up, I saw that it’s circulation numbers were pretty good (which is…alarming). If this were any other book, I would immediately replace it. As it is, I’m struggling hardcore with feeling strongly that I don’t want to add it to my collection, but also feeling like I probably should. But that’s what being a library is about–having a balanced collection despite personal beliefs. Obviously there are lines and I’m trying to decide which side of the line this particular book falls on.

5. Not always getting to attend events

My library has a ton of author visits (six this month alone!) but they’re often at night. Unfortunately, I work nights and weekends so I’m usually working the desk while these events are happening so I don’t get to go 😦

6. Writing book summaries

This might seem super trivial to some, but writing book summaries is HARD! At least, for me it is. And as a librarian, I’ve had to write A LOT of book summaries. Book lists, reviews, etc. It gets exhausting.

Fellow librarians/library workers: what’s your least favorite part of the job? Non-library workers: what do you think your favorite part of working at a library would be?

17 thoughts on “6 WORST things about working at a library!

  1. So interesting!! I think one of the parts I would find fun is seeing which books are most popular by the general public – I think sometimes the book blog/book twitter/booktube community gets fixated on a few titles as the most popular books while the general public might be influenced by other things – have you noticed this to be true??

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I think it’s fascinating to see what book bloggers think is popular vs what seems to circulate most in my library. But I also sometimes read professional reviews and am fascinated by how what publications seem to think is important or popular. Because often I see no bloggers talking about those books. And sometimes I see recommended reads in professional publications and I strongly suspect book Twitter would not approve of those titles.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with so much of this! I worked at a library for almost 5 years. I LOVED my job but there’s so much that kinda stinks! Definitely, enforcing the rules is the hardest. I’ve had some really ugly confrontations with patrons. In my community, it’s a “nicer” area and branch. A lot of people come in with the attitude that they pay my salary with their taxes. 🙄 not how it works but they have an entitled attitude at times. Also, TAX SEASON was the worst!! Lol I had so many people asking me to do their taxes.. umm no!
    The never ending TBR! I had like 100 books checked out at one point. Books that I normally just wouldn’t check out! 😬😩

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha yes! I’m always just like, “Oh, pretty cover! I’ll definitely read this!” Somehow forgetting about all the books I have out that I’m not reading. We’ve started getting those tax questions this year and it’s not fun.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha! Yup, I remember that. It was worse because I processed all the new adult and teen books… I would either be bringing them home or putting them on hold! Haha.

        Yeah, I’m not sure how people connect librarian to accountant! 🤷🏻‍♀️😆

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I think confronting people about their behavior is very scary and could possibly end badly in some cases, sad to say. Also, I’ve seen library workers ask people to follow policies and often they just don’t because, well, what can they really do to punish any offenders? Are they really going to ban you unless you’re being disruptive or threatening? Probably not, so people do whatever they feel like.

    Also, I think some patrons see a petite female and just feel free to disregard her, honestly. I really can’t help but think sometimes that my library ought to employ men just to enforce the rules. It’s quite sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know what you mean! Luckily, we almost always have a security guard there in case we need them, but two of our new guards are smaller girls so… I’m not sure how effective they’ll be.

      Depending on the offense, we do ban people. If they’re just talking on the quiet floor, we’ll ask them to go downstairs. But the other day we had a kid (11-12 years old) who was asking people for money and it was the 2nd time we’ve caught him doing it. We did end up trespassing him for a week.


  4. I’ve always thought about getting a job in a library some day, but I never really thought about these things! I used to “work” in my high school’s library, and I personally really liked it… but it was only for about 2 hours a week, so I could see how some of your points would become difficult over time! We would have to write book summaries, make recommendations, and search for new YA books for the inventory, and all of that was fun for me 🙂 But if I ever did become a real librarian, I would be so stressed out with my growing TBR!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I hear ya! I’ve been doing this five years now and the stories I could tell you! Especially on the “more concerning behaviors” thing. I definitely get sick a little more often. WE don’t get authors at my little library, but we try to accommodate staff that want to attend a particular program or class. Most of our Nuts for Neddlework is actually staff, but we did just start that program.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. As long as we aren’t short staffed and can keep the desks covered, we can attend whatever programs we want. Luckily, we have enough staff most of the time to do that. Plus, it’s required that one staff member be in every program, even outside presenters. So if someone is interested in, say The Master Gardener class, they can be the staff member in the class.

        Liked by 1 person

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