'What They Didn't Teach In Library School' is a series of guest-authored posts,
written by YA Librarians from around the country, highlighting situations or skills
that were never addressed in formal Library School, but that are integral to librarianship.
No Do-Overs: Every Day is Different in Libraryland
by Katie Bradley
Like many librarians, I am a planner. An organizer. A list maker. I like having a schedule and a to-do list; I enjoy putting items in their place and being able to quickly evaluate the day's tasks. Lists and plans help me get through the day and stay on task in my non-library life and, when I became a librarian, I automatically applied those organizational tools to my library life. I've found, however, that in my library life it would sometimes be better if my schedule and to-do list were crumpled up and tossed in the recycling bin as soon as I got to work. I am a planner, but have come to realize that most of the time you cannot plan for working in a library.
I learned early on in my public library career that what you have to do can change rapidly, especially when dealing with children and teenagers. Things happen that make a day's planned activity impossible. There are a lot of things that I plan to do everyday, however, there are different things that occur that make me change my "plan" to better serve the patrons and the community.
|What do you mean 'cat's aren't |
allowed in the library'?!
I know that even though I have deadlines to make, book lists to write and a whole pile of books to read, the customer service aspect of my job is the most important aspect of my job. Without patrons, there is no library. Therefore, I must do my best to answer questions, suggest titles, be a welcoming face and listen to every patron. (Yes, even the annoying ones.) I get sick of telling people where the superhero books are or where to find the next thrilling book in the new dystopian series. Sometimes I wish for a button under the desk that would drop annoying patrons into a tank of alligators. But even if I've answered the "where's the tax forms" question fifty times or explained to ten different customers that there is a wait list for the new Rick Riordan book, I still must be courteous, professional and answer every question to the best of my ability. Getting the correct information, book, or print out can make or break a patron's day - and possibly their overall feelings toward the library. What I have learned over the years is that you cannot redo an experience you had with a patron. You got one shot to get those answers and books they crave. One shot to instill appreciation for the services and resources libraries provide. From that perspective, my perfectly lined to-do list isn't so important. It can always wait until tomorrow (or the day after that…or the day after that)!
Want more posts on issues not covered in Library School?
Check out Teen Librarian Toolbox's series Behind the Scenes @ the Library.
January 1, 2013 - Overcoming the Pied Piper Syndrome
January 16, 2013 - Finding Balance - The Enforcer vs. The YA Librarian
January 23, 2013 - Dealing with Peeps Not Like Me
January 30, 2013 - Mousy & Mild Won't Cut It
February 6, 2013 - Community Service and the Library
February 13, 2013 - Dealing with the Angry Folk
February 20, 2013 - Mistakes as Opportunities
February 27, 2013 - Librarians as Social Workers
March 6, 2013 - Adapt or Perish
March 13, 2013 - No Do-Overs
March 20, 2013 - Promotion & Programming