The First Four Months

Posted on January 15, 2013. Filed under: Library Woes | Tags: , , , |

Last September I started my first bona fide librarian gig. Has it been what I expected? Yes and no. In some ways, it’s everything I’ve been waiting for. In others… let’s just say I’ve had a wake-up call.

I went on the interview thinking it was no big deal if I didn’t get it. I liked my job at the time, even if I was in circulation with a Master’s degree making way less than what circulation staff deserve. (It’s a customer service job. If you’ve worked customer service, you know how crappy it is). I had good benefits, which were more important than ever because, at the time, I was three months pregnant. I was thinking that even if I did get this job, I might not take it because of the benefits alone. Still, I took it seriously and presented my best face, but I didn’t feel anywhere near as nervous as I had in previous interviews. I’d already written it off, and maybe that’s part of the reason I was offered the job. The other part, I’m sure, was that I talked about teen programming and collection development, which they seemed to be very interested in, and they gave me the impression that this would be a teen librarian job. It’s not.

Right after I was hired, I found out my manager was selected for a committee, so she had to keep ordering for the teen collection. I got graphic novels, picture books, beginning readers, and a portion of nonfiction. Quite the spread. That leaves programming, right? My week consists of storytimes for babies and toddlers. I have a monthly program for K-3. Not exactly what I was expecting.

Still, for the past four months, I’ve been advocating for an increase in teen programming, and I’ve had marginal success. I got the green light to start a teen advisory group, and our first meeting is next week. I have a teen program scheduled for the summer, plus one for tweens, and two tween/teen movie nights. I’m hoping to get my teens planning some extra programs, but on the downside, anything they come up with for the next few months has to be a passive program because we only have one program room, and there simply isn’t time in the schedule.

Change takes such a long time. Teen programming gets maybe 10 percent of the focus in youth services, so I’m going to have to keep advocating and keep arguing. I say that if a program isn’t bringing in the people (I’m looking at you, the reading to dogs program), then cut it and put something else in its place.

On the whole, I love my job. I get to do a lot of fun things and help a lot of people. There’s nothing like solving a particular tricky question, or putting just the right book into a kid’s hands and see them get excited about it. It feels great to have a kid come back into the library just to tell me that I absolutely have to read such-and-such book. Those are the moments I’ll keep working for.

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