5 myths about working at a library


  1. It’s quiet at the library, or it’s supposed to be quiet ALL THE TIME, and women in cardigans (that would be me) go around saying, “SHHHHHHH…” to anyone who’s out of line. I may rock a cardie, but I don’t “SHHHHH.” If there are kids running around in circles and screaming, or teens using profanity so that everyone (meaning me) has to hear it, yes, I will talk to them and/or their parents. But, much to the annoyance of some folks, the public library is full of the public, including two-year-olds who squeal with excitement over Thomas the Tank Engine and people who see it more as a community center than a quiet study area. And that’s just fine.
  2. You get to read at work. I love it when people tell me that it must be great to have a job where you get to read at work.  Well, sure, it would be, but that’s not my job.  I do read. I read a lot. But not at work, although I’ll admit that when I’m in the stacks and come across something really funny or horrifying, I’ll sometimes take a minute or two to flip through a book. Usually that’s because I’m wondering what it’s still doing on our shelves. One example: I found a book about chinchilla care from the 1960s. When you let the book fall open on its own, it goes to illustrations of how to skin your chinchilla in preparation for the fur cape pattern further back in the book. (There’s a fur-lined swimsuit for warmer weather, too.) Eek. Definitely not what I was expecting.
  3. Everyone who works at a library loves to read. Some people do. Some people like other parts of the work like research, or working with patrons, or leading programs.
  4. Everything is free at the library, and if it isn’t free, it should be for me. Occasionally the “my taxes are paying for this” statement is attached to that idea. Sorry. My taxes pay for it, too, but not everything is free, although it would be lovely if it were. We’ve had budget cuts in the past that were not fully restored, so you have to pay for copies. You have to pay fines if things are late. You might have to pay a fee for a DVD rental. Oh, and by the way, if you check a book or DVD or CD out, never bring it back, and then refuse to pay for it, you might not get to check out more materials. People are sometimes surprised by this. (A side note – I ran my library use habits through an online calculator, and to pay for my usual level of reading, listening, and watching, I’d be shelling out something like $1,684.50 each month. I think paying for copies and occasionally having to replace a book is just dandy in comparison.)
  5. You could cut the staff and use volunteers, because everything’s on the internet, anyway. No one would expect volunteers to run schools or the police department, because you need to have a regular, committed staff with special training at those places. It turns out you need that at the library, too. And “everything” might be on the internet, but is it always reliable? Can you really always find what you’re looking for? I can’t. That’s why I like working with librarians. They can find it, and it’s not often from a site that also has cat videos, even if the cat videos are funny. Sometimes.

Image credit: BYU Library/Creative Commons

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4 thoughts on “5 myths about working at a library

  1. toddlerstorytime says:

    Well said and spot on!


  2. toddlerstorytime says:

    And I love that picture of you! 😉


  3. Chris Knox says:

    I love it! This is so true! Thanks for informing us of the truth of libraries, and exploding the myths.


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