Guest Post: So You Think You Want My Job? (Library Assistant)

Kat here! Today I have a guest post from Laura Wardle, a library assistant! Take it away, Laura!

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.

The good:

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.

The bad:

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 blogTwitter, and Goodreads.


19 Responses to Guest Post: So You Think You Want My Job? (Library Assistant)

  1. Julie Jun 15 2012 at 6:16 am #

    Hello Laura! Thanks for the insight into what goes on “behind the scenes” in a library. And btw, WE WERE BROKEN sounds like a book I would really love to read! 🙂

    • Laursa Wardle Jun 15 2012 at 7:52 am #

      Aw, thanks for letting me hang with you lovely ladies for the day–I’m honoured. Truly. And I’m glad to you like the sound of WE WERE BROKEN. Hopefully you’ll be able to read it one day. 🙂

  2. Natalie Aguirre Jun 15 2012 at 7:42 am #

    Thanks for sharing about your job at a library. I’d love a job like that. Sad that libraries are in danger because I love my library. And libraries are so important for getting people and kids to read.

    • Laursa Wardle Jun 15 2012 at 7:49 am #

      Precisely, Natalie. That’s why it’s so crucial that we do all we can to keep libraries open. Unfortunately, though, some people won’t realise how significant the loss of their library facilities until it’s too late. But just by visiting often, you’re helping to keep your library open–so keep it up! 🙂

  3. Emma Densley Jun 15 2012 at 8:02 am #

    Well done beautiful. Good piece. Wish my job was as worthwhile as yours to you. Keep going with your book. Would love to read it one day. Lots of love Emma

  4. Kat Zhang Jun 15 2012 at 9:36 am #

    Great post, Laura! Thanks for coming on Pub Crawl 😀 Libraries were such a huge part of my childhood, and it’s so great to hear about the push to keep them running and active in the community!

    • Laura Wardle Jun 18 2012 at 10:50 am #

      Hee, of course. You know how much I adore Pub Crawl–and you wonderful ladies who keep it running so beautifully! 😀 Glad you like the article, Kat. This post and the comments made my supervisor choke up–she’s so happy that people appreciate what we’re doing. 🙂

  5. Erica O'Rourke Jun 15 2012 at 10:16 am #

    I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to hear that your library is becoming a gathering place for your town, especially the families! It must have been a ton of work, but well worth it.

    • Laura Wardle Jun 20 2012 at 9:33 am #

      Aw, thank you ever so much, Erica! Yeah, we worked out butts off, but the pay-off has been so worth it. That’s for sure. 🙂

  6. Lauren Jun 15 2012 at 10:37 am #

    I’m a librarian, so I can completely emphasize with your post. I think keeping a library up-to-date and current is essential – I’m so happy that your library is thriving as it is! People keep saying libraries are a dying breed, but you know what? This past week at my library I hosted a program that 75 kids attended. That same day we signed up more than 60 new library cards. People love coming to see us; why close something so cherished?

  7. Ellen Jun 15 2012 at 10:53 am #

    Hey Laura! Loved your post–my mom is a librarian at the second biggest library in our state, and even they’re worried about what could happen to their business because of the changing face of book publishing/reading. I’m really glad you captured that, and how much work library staff do!

    Also, I remember your book title from a query contest these ladies did back on LTWF. If I recall correctly, it sounds like something I would love to read. Best of luck with the publishing process!

  8. Erin Bowman Jun 15 2012 at 12:01 pm #

    Laura, thanks so much for sharing a peek at your day! Working unpaid overtime is a huge bummer, but as I’m sure you know, readers appreciate all your hard work. The world needs more librarians and book-lovers! 🙂

  9. Vanessa Di Gregorio Jun 18 2012 at 6:57 pm #

    Laura, I think it’s fantastic that your library is going through a revival! That’s fantastic to hear! Libraries are so incredibly important, and it’s such a shame that they’re in danger – even though they shouldn’t be!

    Thanks for bringing insight on what it is you do! I’ve known the basics, but it’s so interesting to learn about all the little details! 😀

  10. Reyes Aug 11 2012 at 1:16 am #

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