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?

HW Assignment: To Separate or Not to Separate (Prompt #8)

It’s interesting to consider whether or not libraries should separate LGBT and/or African American literature from the general collection. I can see that it would make things a lot easier for those readers who specifically want to read those types of books just from a locating standpoint. At the same time, I don’t think that separation like that would work in my local libraries.

I live in Provo, Utah which is predominantly populated by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). Somewhat due to the influence of the church, a large portion of the community is very conservative. Since the community is so conservative, I think it would be an especially bad idea to separate out LGBT fiction into its own collection. It may be seen by some patrons as subtly promoting certain issues (such as gay rights) which is something that most of them do not support. Whether you agree or disagree with this mindset isn’t really the point. I think this shows that there isn’t much demand for a separate section in this case and at the same time, we would want to avoid angering or alienating patrons if possible.

As mentioned in the prompt, I also think this could be seen as a kind of segregation even though it’s not meant that way especially if we were to separate out African American fiction. I think a lot of patrons would just have the reaction of, “Why is this even necessary?” I don’t think that most patrons would understand or see this as a way for them to easily access material. In the end, I think they would just see it as unnecessarily drawing attention to the fact that these books are “different” from the rest of the collection. Instead, I think that libraries should utilize displays and other resources like lists to feature these sections of their collections. Black History Month would be a great time to feature African American literature and displays could easily be created for LGBT books as well. This way the library can still shine a spotlight on these sections of the collection, but it seems much more natural.

Lastly, I don’t think it’s appropriate to separate LGBT and African American fiction from the general collection because they’re not different genres (like mysteries or speculative fiction). While it’s true that YA isn’t necessarily it’s own genre either, I think those books are mostly aimed at a different audience whereas LGBT and African American fiction are not necessarily aimed at the audiences in their descriptors. They’re still meant for the general audience. I think it’s a good thing if someone were to pick up an LGBT or African American fiction book without realizing it. Who knows? Maybe they’ll end up finishing the book and have a new understanding or appreciation of a section of the collection that they would never have sought out in the first place.

HW Assignment: Prompt #2

Ebook only books, which are increasingly popular (especially in the romance genre) see little to no reviews in professional publications unless they have a big name author, and then still it’s usually only RT Reviews (formally Romantic Times) or other genre heavy publications. How does this affect collection development?
It seems like there will be disproportionately fewer eBook only books compared to those that are published in print as well. They’re likely not going to be on librarian’s radars like other more marketed books will be. In addition, I think patrons are more likely to come in, browse the shelves, and then leave with a few print books. It doesn’t seem like eBooks are as popular with most libraries as print books are. Because of this, it doesn’t make as much economic sense to spend money on eBook only books when you could be purchasing books that will have a wider appeal simply because of format.

I have posted two more documents in the week five files. One is two reviews of an ebook only romantic suspense novel, one from a blog and one from amazon. Look over the reviews – do you feel they are both reliable? How likely would you be to buy this book for your library? Is this ebook even romantic suspense?
I think the reviews are reliable to a point. Some of the things mentioned by the reviewers seem like they’re probably true—it’s a clean romance, the plot doesn’t make much sense. However, both reviews could’ve used a round of editing. While this does detract from the reviewer’s credibility (it sounds like a review coming from my neighbor rather than a reputable publication), it doesn’t take away from their opinion and what they thought of the book. Sometimes it’s still valuable to see that information. I would not be very likely to purchase this for my library. The reviews lean towards positive, but it’s not compelling enough for me to justify the money spent on it. I would not classify this book as romantic suspense—it seems more like a straight romance.

The other document contains some reviews of Angela’s Ashes, by Frank McCourt, an incredibly popular memoir. These reviews are all from professional publications, feel free to find more on your own I just nabbed a few from the Book Review Digest database for you. How do these reviews make you feel about the possibility of adding Angela’s Ashes to your collection?
I would definitely consider adding this book to my collection as it sounds like it has a lot going for it—well-written, emotional, and descriptive. The reviews are very good at explaining what the book is about and praising its strengths.

Do you think it’s fair that one type of book is reviewed to death and other types of books get little to no coverage? How does this affect a library’s collection?  And how do you feel about review sources that won’t print negative content? Do you think that’s appropriate? If you buy for your library, how often do you use reviews to make your decisions? If not, how do you feel about reviews for personal reading, and what are some of your favorite review sources?
I don’t know if “fair” really has anything to do with it—it’s just the way it is. In my experience, if a book is good it will gain traction. I tend to distrust review sources that only print positive content. It feels like they’re not giving me the whole story—like anything I read from them is biased. I don’t want to only hear good things about a book and then be disappointed that there are some glaring problems that nobody mentioned. It’s a reviewer’s responsibility to be honest with their opinions, whether good or bad. I feel that this is the purpose of a review. If there is a book that I know I want to read, I stay away from reviews because I would rather go into the book with an open mind and form my own opinions. If it’s a book that I’m on the fence about, I’ll usually look at some reviews on Goodreads or from some of the book blogs that I follow to decide whether or not to read it. After I’ve read a book, I’ll often read reviews from other blogs just to see whether other people feel the same way that I did.