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 ūüė¶

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?

DISCUSSION: What it’s like to work at a library

Hello everyone! I’ve been so flaky on here lately and I APOLOGIZE. Life has been hectic to say the least. New baby, new job…you know how it goes. But everything’s good and everyone’s good and I’m finally ready to share a new part of my life with you!

I just started a part-time job at my local public library and I LOVE IT. I’d been sitting on my MLS for a couple of years without doing anything with it because I already had a full-time job with great benefits and I wasn’t finding any comparable library jobs opening up in my area. Then I had my baby and I’ve been concentrating on that for a bit. In September, I saw a listing for a part-time Librarian position and it felt like good timing for me to go back to work so I applied and I got it! I started at the end of September so I’ve only been working for a couple of months, but it’s been a really great experience so far.

Right now I’m working 24 hours a week as an Adult/Teen Services & Reference Librarian. Here are some of my day-to-day duties:

  • Reference desk – This consists of helping patrons face-to-face with questions or problems they may have, book recommendations, selling internet passes, and scheduling our private study rooms.
  • Collection Development – I’m over the 900s which is mostly Travel and History. I’m in charge of maintaining the collection and purchasing new materials.
  • Various library teams – I’m currently on teams for Supplies, Inter-Library Loans, and Booklists.
  • Programming – I have yet to do any programming, but my first active teen program is scheduled for February. I’ll also be doing some family programming.
  • Professional Development/Training – My manager puts out a job chart every month with various tasks like exploring our Special Collections, making sure we know how to use various services that we provide, etc.

One of the big things that stood out to me with this library is that all librarians, even the part-timers like me, are over a collection. I think that’s so cool! I’ve loved everything that I’ve been asked to do so far, but I’m a little nervous about doing programs. I’m not really a “stand at the front of the room” kind of person…so we’ll see how that goes.

Now I’ll toss it over to you guys, do you have any questions about what it’s like to work in a library? Or, if you also work in a library, what has it been like for you?

Parental Advisory for Books?

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Just a picture, not actually a warning for this post.

For those of you who have been following my blog for a while, you might remember that I did a post on parental advisory for books almost exactly a year ago. Within the last couple of months this post has¬†seemed to regain interest–the views have really started to pick up–and I’m not exactly sure why. I reread through that post and the comments the other day and I felt like I needed to write a new post addressing the topic. Now that I’m halfway done with my Masters in Library Science, I feel like I have a little more perspective and a more concrete opinion on the matter.

Just as a reminder from the brief research that I did for my last post, I didn’t find that ratings or labeling content as “explicit” was required for any medium (movies, video games, music) but that it was encouraged in a lot of them. I’ve seen some books that have warnings as part of the summary, but they’ve all been books that I’ve found on Amazon and appear to be self-published or published by a small publishing house–not by one of the big five.

The last time I talked about this, I proposed that books be given ratings similar to movies and video games. I think a lot of people took that to mean that children would be restricted from certain books if the rating was too mature like they are from R-rated movies and Mature rated video games (which started to feel like censorship to some).¬†As I’ve started my degree, I’ve discovered that librarians feel¬†very passionately about censorship (I’m taking an Intellectual Freedom course next term). They do not agree with it and actively fight against it in a lot of cases. I too do not believe that librarians have the responsibility to censor material for their young patrons–that is the job of parents. Who am I as a librarian to say whether or not someone else’s kid can read Fifty Shades of Grey? I know I wouldn’t let¬†my¬†kid read it, but that’s my own personal decision.¬†I realize now that I should have clarified something in my original post. I’m not proposing that kids be kept from reading certain books if they choose to read them. What I am proposing is that books be given ratings as a source of information for consumers (and parents of consumers).

While¬†you’re not given the responsibility to tell people what they can and can’t read as a librarian, you are given the responsibility of recommending books to people when they ask. This is called Readers’ Advisory (I took a class on that as well). Part of the RA interview is to determine a reader’s comfort level in certain areas. Perhaps you have a patron that loves reading romance. She’s comfortable with some steamy scenes, but she’s not a fan of erotica. It’s the librarian’s job to recommend books that fall within her comfort level. With what I propose, the rating system will only help readers to get the same information that they might get from a librarian during an RA interview. We already have a summary of the book, why not a brief summary of its adult content as well?

Ultimately I see this as a help for the consumer when determining what to read, but also for parents of young readers. My mom was a great mom. She was a stay-at-home mom so she was able to spend a lot of time with me and my siblings and was very involved in our lives. That being said, with the rate at which my sister and I consumed books, there was no way that my mom could keep up with what¬†we were reading. There were a couple of times when my mom caught wind of something “bad” in a book or series that I was reading and she made it clear that I was not to read those books. Honestly, I didn’t care. There were plenty of other books to read so I did what she asked (I mean, she’s my mom…what was I going to do?). I think if books had the kind of ratings that I’m proposing, my mom would have had a much easier time helping us to choose books with content that she thought was appropriate for us to be reading which is exactly what we as librarians hope parents will do.

So now that I’ve made some clarifications in my opinion, what do you guys think? Do you still think it’s a bad idea? Or would you find this kind of information helpful as well?

Do you want to be a librarian?

Hello everyone! I don’t usually post stuff like this, but I just wanted to get this information out there for anyone interested. Before I started this blog I had no idea how exactly one goes about becoming a librarian. Honestly, I didn’t even know that I might want to be one! After joining the book blogging community, I noticed a few bloggers mentioning MLS degrees and classes. I thought to myself, “What is this mysterious degree?” It turns out MLS stands for Masters of Library Science which is a degree that you need if you want to become a librarian. I know! I had NO IDEA that librarians had to get a specific Masters degree!

Anyway, after finding out about this glorious degree and feeling that it was the right path for me, I looked into and applied to a few different programs across the country. I started school last fall and will be done this December (fingers crossed!).¬†One awesome thing about the MLS is that a lot of schools have this degree 100% online! That meant that I could keep the job I already had plus I could start school. I’m currently working part time (28 hours a week) and going to school technically full-time (3 classes per semester, 2 classes per term). So far I’ve been loving it! It’s been hard for sure to find the balance between work, school, and personal life, but I’m excited with how quickly my progress has been towards getting this degree.

So here’s a little advice that I would give to anyone who is possibly interested in this degree.

  • It doesn’t matter what your undergraduate was in. My undergrad was Economics with a minor in Math–definitely unrelated. As long as you like books and feel passionate about the library’s role in society, you should be good.
  • Different schools require different things when applying. Some want you to have an interview, some have you take the GRE or GMAT, some require you to come to campus for an orientation, and they’re all different prices as well. So just pick the one that works for you! I personally went for one that didn’t require an interview, test (as long as your undergrad GPA was high enough), or on-campus orientation. In the end I think I had to send in transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a cover letter, and the online application.
  • Different schools have different classes and offer different specializations. Since I read a lot of YA, I decided to look into a Teen Services Specialization. Some schools didn’t have that and some did–so that’s something to think about. A lot of times you can find a list of the courses a school offers online. Find the one that has classes or a specialization you’re interested in!
  • If you don’t feel confident in your ability to be a self-starter or if you have a lot of other obligations on your time, online may not be the best route for you. You really do have to be on top of assignments and making sure you’re getting the readings done. With no face-to-face class time, there’s less accountability throughout the semester.

With all that being said, it’s been a really great experience for me. This is an email I was sent today and was asked to forward it to anyone who was interested:

Interested in obtaining your MLS degree 100% online?

Starting as early as this fall?

The IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI is taking applications until July 15.

The Master of Library Science program, accredited by the American Library Association (ALA-MLS) is the entry degree for a professional librarian, universally required for professionals in academic libraries; essential for leadership in public libraries; provides valuable information and management skills for people who advance information connections in a variety of organizations, public, private, and non-profit.

Admissions Information

Online application

Plans of Study

Questions?  Feel free to contact me!

Elizabeth Bunge

Graduate Program Coordinator

Indiana University

School of Informatics and Computing-Indianapolis

535 W. Michigan St.

IT 476

Indianapolis, IN  46202-3103

Phone:  317-278-9200

http://soic.iupui.edu