A typical day:
I’m a book-wrangler. Okay, so that’s not my official title, but it sounds good. I work in a small market town library in East Yorkshire, England. Before my supervisor, Helen, and I took over the running of the branch in January, it was stuffy and absolutely brimming, and mostly catered for older folks. But after majorly weeding through our stock and re-arranging the whole library set-up, we now have a branch that’s well organised, inviting, and up-to-date. Most importantly, we’re once again drawing in borrowers of all ages. Obviously what our library needed was some young blood to drag it forward. Seriously, it’d been stuck in some kind of seventies time warp. Some of the stock hadn’t been on loan since before I was born, which was quite terrifying. Yeah.
Our branch is only open part-time, and those fifteen hours are split over five shifts, of varying lengths. We always start with the same tedious routine—health and safety checks, changing date stamps, etc. A big part of our day is dealing with our borrowers—whether face-to-face or over the phone. After all, they are the lifeblood of our service. In between customers, we have to find time for stock maintenance—we’re both pretty anal about keeping the shelves neat—general administration, incoming reservations, shelf checks, running various groups, putting together displays, keeping with virtual stock deadlines, amongst plenty of other duties.
So, between the two of us, we’re usually pretty busy. Granted, that’s not always the case. We’re only human, and sometimes when it’s slow, we slack off a bit—I plot (I’m a writer), and Helen browses cookery books. It works for us.
All libraries are threatened these days, with e-readers becoming increasingly popular (yes, I prefer my books in print, but each to their own) and pretty much everything easily accessible on the internet. Branches are shutting down up and down the country. That’s why it’s imperative that we’re flexible and adapt as the rest of society does. As such, we’re working tirelessly to make ourselves more accessible to borrowers, ensuring that our services are made use of, and that we’re kept open.
Libraries are, after all, a central part of a community—that’s who we work to serve. Since updating our branch, it has become a hub of sorts for many people to gather. And many young families have become regulars. That’s why we’re heavily investing in the future generations of readers in our community—running many groups for young people ranging from story times for pre-schoolers to the teenage reading group I’m launching in September. Really, these young people are the future of our library, so we’re gearing much of what we do towards them.
I never get that Sunday night feeling—granted, I don’t start while 4.45 p.m. on Mondays—but it’s an absolute joy to work in the library. It’s my natural home. I’m surrounded by books, and the people that love those books. It’d be insane not to love it. Helen and I have an amazing working relationship, and have the same vision. We just have a great time—our library is never quiet, that’s for sure. It makes for a brilliant working environment. Plus, since we’re such a small team, we’re never restricted to just one role—I love that flexibility.
We often end up working a lot of unpaid overtime, as there’s just not enough time to get everything done. And we never have enough time to read all the books we pluck from the shelves—I don’t mean in work time, by the way. We’re not that bad.
LAURA WARDLE is a book-wrangler by day, and a YA fantasy writer by night. Currently she’s drafting Soulbound, an urban fantasy novel about a nephilim girl whose soul is marked by Death. When not writing, she can usually be found catching up on her enormous to-be-read pile, drinking copious amounts of tea, and nurturing her unhealthy obsession forPinterest. She lives and writes in East Yorkshire, England. She can be found on her blog, Twitter, and Goodreads.