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Forums » Smalltalk » AMA - A Librarian Aide

What's good, guys? It's me once again, nullbyte, here to answer any and all questions about how libraries work - with just only ONE catch: I'm not an actual librarian with a degree in library science, but I grew up around many of my local libraries and have actively worked in several of them for over five years. I suppose I know enough to answer the majority of whatever it is that you people throw at me!

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Kim Site Admin

Just to orient myself -- what country are we talking about libraries in? :)
nullbyte Topic Starter

Kim wrote:
Just to orient myself -- what country are we talking about libraries in? :)
My bad - my brain automatically assumes a United States POV on anything internet-related. Need to get out of the habit that not everything revolves around my slice of life here, save for this post.
Librarians and journalists are some of the coolest jobs on the planet. :o

What's required to be a librarian aide? What does your mundane daily schedule look like? Is it a pipeline to getting a degree, or are you personally interested in pursuing one?

More broad questions but: Does your library trade books internationally? Does your library do any community events or host small things like tabletop games or book faires, and have you ever helped organize such things? How do you feel about physical vs digital media? What are your opinions on digital archival projects like archive.org and openlibrary?
nullbyte Topic Starter

What's required to be a librarian aide?
Not much, really. In my state, specifically in my city, all they require is just a HS diploma/GED and the ability to work weekends.

What does your mundane daily schedule look like?
In terms of library stuff, it mainly consists of this extensive list:
    I start my day by "logging in" with the Cisco phones.
    Going out immediately to haul in the books from the items deposit box (of which goes by WAY too many names - I've heard "items return", "drop box", "book drop", "return box", which seems to differ among different library staffing depending on age and location especially).
    With my library in particular, I like to make sure to do a quick scan of the shelves to put items in their proper place and rescuing orphan items for the "in-house use" count when I go back into the work room.
    From time to time, a router list forms (a list of books that people put on hold at our specific site), in which I go back onto the floor and retrieve if we have them. Sometimes, there are missing items, so I mark them accordingly for the higher-ups to mark the item as missing.
    I usually like to get things done as soon as possible because of my enochlophobia. It's a relatively small site in which there's not too much room for massive amounts of people, so I wait out the crowd by taking a 15-minute break.
    At the end of the day, we're also supposed to refill the patron printers, so I go ahead and do that as a bookend to my work day and "log out" of my shift with the aforementioned phone earlier.

Is it a pipeline to getting a degree, or are you personally interested in pursuing one?
What I've noticed happening often is that those in positions higher than me (reference people), usually get hired and stay a couple months and then consider moving on up to higher positions (circulation staff, or full-fledged librarian) at either the site they got hired at or transferring to another location for convenience so that they could continue "climbing up the chain", so to speak.
For the second part of the question, I consider myself to be in the wrong place entirely in terms of an occupation as the library was continuing the work of my mother who had been a reference person long ago after I graduated. The staff at my nearest library knew who I was and I got hired due to my connections and prior work experience handling phone calls at my previous place of employment (desk clerk at a community center). I'm a tech-guy at heart and I'm studying to be a computer support specialist, completely different from library science.

Does your library do any community events or host small things like tabletop games or book faires, and have you ever helped organize such things?
The wonderful thing about my city's library sites is that we ALL have programs available, some of which are admin-run, others who are run by some of the staff at the individual sites. Occasionally, there are "larger" things that happen, such as a third-party group that works alongside the library to host massive book fairs at all of the sites and they're VERY popular as they bust out all sorts of stuff like raffle tickets and provide free snacks to folks. I recall hosting a movie night at the library on several different occasions in my third year of working for my nearest library. It was very popular with the seniors and the movie showing were also all free - you could walk in, grab a seat, I'd stand in the back and make popcorn for people. It was also great because, in a way, I'd be getting paid for it on company time! There's also a popular writer's group that I frequent and host if the main guy goes AWOL, which was the very thing that inspired me to start writing (again).

How do you feel about physical vs digital media?
There's something uniquely special about physically holding tangible items - while I am aware we're in the future and digital media is all the rage nowadays, nothing beats the feeling of amassing a huge collection of items! I'm also a firm believer in CDs as well, not just books.

What are your opinions on digital archival projects like archive.org and openlibrary?
I use archive.org mainly for the Wayback Machine for defunct websites and such, and seeing as I'm a huge tech person, it is a great boon to the technological testament of humankind, to be able to archive physical stuff for the sake of review and research. You may be surprised to hear this, but I've never heard of openlibrary until right now...
Kim Site Admin

Do you see being a librarian aide eventually building toward something else related, or is this exactly where you want to be? :)
nullbyte Topic Starter

Kim wrote:
Do you see being a librarian aide eventually building toward something else related, or is this exactly where you want to be? :)

Oh, no - no, no. I see being a librarian aide as a river of sorts, drifting along a slow moving current leading to something I'm actively studying for in college - computer support. My ultimate goal is to work in the college I'm at, doing the thing I'm studying for. Only reason I'm there at the library is to make a bit of cash on the side to help out my folks and to make organic human connections.
My library (and its digital account through Overdrive) allot book recs, and I regularly fill out recommendations whenever I think of something I'd like to read and can't find, or something that I loved reading but our library doesn't carry.

That said, I'm not sure that anyone had ever looked at any of my recommendations. Or maybe I just read and suggest titles that are super unpopular.

Am I shouting into the void? How do you guys decide what new books to add to the collection?
nullbyte Topic Starter

AncientCatKing wrote:
My library (and its digital account through Overdrive) allot book recs, and I regularly fill out recommendations whenever I think of something I'd like to read and can't find, or something that I loved reading but our library doesn't carry.

That said, I'm not sure that anyone had ever looked at any of my recommendations. Or maybe I just read and suggest titles that are super unpopular.

Am I shouting into the void? How do you guys decide what new books to add to the collection?

There's no void-shoutin' going on here. *We* individually can decide via a thing called "Staff Picks" and this is reflected in a personal collection on the library's website where you can browse through the books we personally handpick, with the only restrictions being that (1) you're an *actual* librarian with a degree and (2) if we have it available system-wide somewhere.

To answer your other question, the central hq of the library downtown admins all acquisitions via a small form that people can fill out. Once the threshold reaches a certain number of requests, the central hq team considers acquiring said books so that once the new fiscal year rolls around and budgets are renewed, they are on the shelves as "new collection".
Gokugull (played anonymously)

What's your favorite thing about being around all those books? :D Sounds so peaceful
nullbyte Topic Starter

Believe me - the peace is fleeting. A common misconception about the library (my city's library) is that there's an abundance of noise because people also like to bring their children en masse. There *are* quiet/study rooms available, but the disclaimer is always "the rooms aren't sound proof so outside noise can be heard".

Favorite thing about being in the midst of the stacks is the variety and seeing something I've never read before and actually enjoying the thing I'm reading. I have eclectic tastes in my literature and seeing something out there in the wild I have on my list of books to read, you'd be sure that I'm immediately taking it to the workroom to read.

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