Good Days and Bad: Lessons from Six Months of Librarian Life

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Once upon a time I was a starry-eyed gal floating on the high of her first librarian job. Ready for action, excited for the challenge, eager to please I knew NOTHING COULD STOP ME! Now, over six months deep into librarianship, I can tell you that this is not what I expected at all.

Most days I live for the thrill of the job. Answering reference questions, working with patrons, tackling coding issues, playing with robots, learning to 3D print. I come home with a buzz of excitement and want to tell all about the amazing place I work and the wonderful people I meet.

Then there are the bad days. Your favorite co-worker is retiring. The boss is screaming at you. A patron calls you an idiot. Or asks for the real tech guy. Those days suck. And everyone around you will chalk it up to the growing pains of work life. Which isn’t entirely false. Work isn’t always going to be easy and even a dream job will be sprinkled with a few bad days. But still. They suck.

But then there are the really bad days. Days when a young patron overdoses on heroine and has to be rushed to the hospital. Or a child goes missing and for a few heart stopping moments you fear the worst. We didn’t talk about these kinds of real-life moments in library school. But we read about them enough. Experiencing both first-hand left me feeling terrified and helpless.

I love being a librarian. I love that I can help people, in some small way, make their lives a little better. But the last six months have been a lot harder than I expected. It isn’t that the work is unfulfilling. Though there are days when I swear if I have to fix one more broken link I will likely snap! It’s that, when you place expectations next to reality they are not always going to line up neatly.

There is so much you can’t learn or talk through enough that will help you become a better librarian. Experience and time are the only real way of breaking through and learning the ropes. Until then, I don’t feel like I am really much of a librarian. And that’s probably the hardest lesson of all.

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8 months ago

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