Friday, April 8, 2011

A Day in the Library Life

Well, perhaps a day in the library life is not exactly like the video above. But it has a lot of the elements...bookdrop, Information Desk, customers needing assistance.

Recently the staff at my library kept track of the kinds of questions we were asked during the average day. For instance:

--Library cards: We created 10 new customer records! We also answered questions like "The machine says my card is invalid, why is that?" [Most of the time, the card has expired or your record is open in 2 locations, such as check-in & check-out.]

--Location, location, location: a good deal of the library day involves helping people find things, as you might imagine-the restrooms, the holdshelves, the book return, the DVDs, the study rooms. We also might get questions like "How are the holdshelves organized?" [Alphabetically, by the customer's last name.]

--Reference: In an average day, we might get asked (in person or by phone) for book recommendations, help placing holds, help renewing items, to print a document off a USB drive, how to download books, & for help on the computer (ranging from "I can't get on the internet" to "Can you help me create a resume?").

In addition to the basic reference questions, we might get something a little out of the ordinary, such as:

  • "How many hits on Electrical Sensitivity?" (Google site hits)

  • "What sounds do horses make & what are the names of those sounds?"

  • "I need a book about Joan of Arc. Not a novel. Not what she might have done."

  • "Do you have any books about maneaters?"

  • "Do you have any books about parkour?"

  • "What were Ancient Egyptian cosmetics made of?"

  • "I just moved to New Mexico. Can you tell me information about New Mexico counties, county seats, & general New Mexico demographics?"

  • "I'm teaching an editing class-can you recommend some badly written books?"

The great thing about working in the library is you never know what kind of people, questions, & situations you'll run across in a day. Some days you get a hard reference question, & you end up researching online & in books for quite some time. Some days you find yourself tied to the public computers-either there are lots customers needing assistance, or something is wrong with the system. Other days, you end up helping little kids find picture books, or there's an interesting program going on that you get to look in on, or a customer introduces you to something cool (a book or movie, perhaps) that you hadn't heard of before.

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