Confessions of a Library Assistant
When I worked in a library, a lot of people would tell me how much they envied my work.
You have to learn to read heaps, they said.
It’s so quiet in a library they said.
What a great place to work, they said.
You must like to be surrounded by books all day, they said.
Weeeeeeeeeeell – although I liked it, I have to admit it’s VERY different than most people think.
Myth 1 – The only thing the library does is lend books
There is so much more to your local library than the books on the shelves! You can also borrow audiobooks and e-books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, kits, etc. read the latest newspapers or use a computer; join a book club; take your children to story time or to school vacation activities; and This is just the beginning. Check out your local library and be amazed at exactly how much is on offer!
Myth 2 – You have to learn to read heaps
I’m sure people think working in a library means you can curl up in an easy chair and devour the latest bestseller, in between helping customers. WRONG!
In fact, working in a library is NOT for the faint hearted. It is quite a physical job. There are crates to lift, carts to push, and you are on your feet most of the day. Workplace injuries, especially RSI (Repetitive Fatigue Injury) are a reality for library staff. I suspect that’s why I still struggle with bursitis in my right shoulder to this day (which flares up when I do fine motor work like puzzles, crossroads, even during the recent Sip and Paint event we attended).
Myth 3 – He must be so calm
Heard more than one couple having rather boisterous and violent domestic lives right in front of me (it probably didn’t help that a pub was located right next to the library).
Another time a young man tore the place apart like hell hounds were on his heels. No, it was just another man chasing him. So the young man tried to hide – using me like the shield!
Then there was the cranky old man who lifted his cane in the air and shook it – I almost thought he was going to hit me with it.
Myth 4 – A library is a safe place
Libraries are pretty, quiet havens of peace. So sure that every afternoon several children – from elementary school to high school – would arrive to wait and do their homework, until their parents had finished working.
Unfortunately, library staff are not paid to supervise children who are not accompanied by an adult, and although we did realize the children were there, the reality was that we were generally too busy to supervise them. .
I urge all parents to remember that a library is a place where community comes together. It’s free, after all, and it’s a great place to take shelter when the weather isn’t nice. And that means members from all walks of life hang out there. Yes, even pedophiles, people on parole or probation …
Some of the stories I’ve heard and things I’ve seen while working in the library would make your hair curl.
The library provided the community with a few small rooms to book meetings. The problem was that other people would walk around when they weren’t in use and use them for their own purposes. The same goes for public toilets. While personally I have never seen anything untoward, others I have worked with have caught more than one couple in the act – or an ongoing drug case!
Myth 5 – The only thing that gets put in back falls is the books
Then there were the weird objects going through the falls back. I have seen all kinds of things left in the library books. Bus tickets. Identity cards. Shopping lists. Birthday cards. Fabrics. Sanitary napkins. A packet of condoms. Yes really!
Despite all of this, I loved my time working in a library. I made some very good friends; I have met a lot of great people; and and I guess it IS true – I got to see and bring home a lot of awesome books to read! 😉
But I like it even better now that I get to be a boss rather than a staff member!
Have you ever wanted to work in a library ?!