Librarians — just your average “super hero”

By: 
Brooke Weiss
Thursday, October 17, 2019

What is the No.1 way to annoy a librarian?

Just say “Wow, it must be nice to just read all day and check books in and out.”

Or “Your job isn’t hard. You’re just a librarian.”

Public libraries have shifted from simple book repositories to thriving community centers. The days of bespectacled, cardigan and bun-wearing shushing librarians are gone.

We still may need glasses to see, or a cardigan if we get cold. The classic bun never goes out of style and very rarely do we shush people.

Do we check books in and out? Do we shelve items when they come back? Of course we do, but that is such a small part of what librarians actually do. We straighten the books on the shelves, no small task when little hands love to walk by entire sections pushing all the books back.

We have to shift books depending on the moment’s space needs — sometimes entire sections at a time. We provide extensive tech classes and one-on-one instruction. We have offered genealogy, exercise and cooking classes. We help patrons on the computers, including how to print, how to use a web browser, how to create resumes and how to do basic search functions.

We help people with their electronic devices. We partner with the county schools and help provide books and research assistance for student projects. We read professional publications and blogs to be able to make well-informed book recommendations. We take webinars and go to training and workshops to maintain our state certification.

We plan and implement programming for all ages and we offer a lot of our programming to the outlying areas in the county. We provide toys and manipulatives, like the Lego table, puppet theater, kitchen set, tanagrams, and a programmable robot. We show movies every week.

We maintain a social media account to reach patrons and non-patrons alike. We provide an up-to-date “New Book” display and an additional themed book display. We run reports and look at statistics and make sure we’re operating under the Public Library Standards, which means we are also knowledgeable about library law.

We have been custodians, plumbers and painters. We order and catalog books, including covering, stamping, stickering, and attaching necessary labels. We are an outlet and a source of interaction for new moms, the elderly, transients, lonely kids and people with news they want to share.

We are their compassion, comfort, counselor and ear to listen. We are adult services, collection management, circulation, Interlibrary Loan, public services, technology, youth services, and Reference Librarians. We are catalogers, custodians, clerks, pages, materials handlers, and program coordinators.

With the advancement of technology and the availability of electronic books, some say that libraries are dying.

They aren’t.

They’re evolving into an even greater institution and librarians are an essential part of that process. Being a librarian can be exhausting, but it’s one of the most rewarding jobs in the world.

So “just” a librarian?

Nope.

Just your average super hero.

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