Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Baby Librarian

I thought I'd give you some information about my short career as a librarian.

My first experience with libraries was my internship at the Library of Congress during the summer of 2009. Holy cow - what an amazing opportunity for a spaz like me. I worked in the U.S. Copyright office under the tutelage of a truly charismatic and caring supervisor. I learned so much about the Library itself, the Library's role and federal employment. I was pleasantly surprised by the tasks I was given, especially because I could actually do them. I have a passion for federal libraries, but it's awfully difficult to become employed by one! Someday I may return to the nation's capital, but for now I'm indulging in my love of public libraries.

My second library job was at a regional library consortium. It gave me a lot of good experience with lobbying on behalf of libraries, but was short-lived due to a packed schedule. To be ruthlessly honest I do not see the value of regional, government-funded library consortia in this day and age. Libraries are most likely to band together themselves without the aid/interference of a third party like a consortium. I fully expect these types of bodies to be nonexistent within the next five or ten years, if not sooner.

The job that truly made me fall in love with public libraries forever was as a Circulation Clerk at the Fayetteville Free Library in Fayetteville, NY. To my biased memory and mind, it is the Platonic ideal of a library. It's located in a suburb and is part of a county system, but on a membership basis which gives it more flexibility in regards to funding and hiring. I cannot imagine a greater place for me to learn about libraries.

When I started out I was so terrified of mis-shelving books and feeling like a fool, but by the time I left I was the tyrant of the Circ Desk and truly felt like a real librarian. The Circulation department is truly the engine of the library and the first line of defense and offense for any type of library. I learned the value of good training, concise documentation, a diverse staff and strong technology. The staff is pretty well cross-trained, which is invaluable in my opinion. Why shouldn't librarians help catalog and why shouldn't circ staff help out with programming? Of course we were definitely spoiled by the oodles of library students coming out of Syracuse - having a fresh source like that is a real boon and something I am sorely missing at my current library. I'm sure you'll hear me talk more about FFL in the future.

As for now, I'm an administrator for a rural library system. I guess I'm sort of an assistant director, but not really? I supervise the four branch libraries of our county system and also help with programming at the main branch and anything else my director would like for me to do. Current projects include revving up our Circulation department, getting our branches in tip-top shape and organizing a grant-funded project for the Spring of 2011. I'm still getting settled in and I've had a few disappointments already, but I'm beyond grateful to be here and so pleased to have found a job within the first six months after graduation. And I can't turn my nose up at the fact that I started as an administrator (even if it ends up killing my spirit).

So, yeah. I'm a baby librarian but am quickly moving into my awkward teen years.

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