I work at a library but I am not a librarian. I do not know the Dewey Decimal System, get to read fun books to cute little kids, help patrons find materials, teach people to use computers, read at my desk between busy spurts so that I am up on the latest books, schedule live bands, host fun parties or research my family tree. Now let me be clear, that is not all librarians do. Not even close. They work hard to get a masters degree, continue their education, learn the Dewey Decimal System, plan programs that their patrons will enjoy, help people find exactly what they are looking for and much more.
However, every time I tell someone I work for a public library, they assume that I’m a librarian. They think I must wear glasses (well I do have glasses), wear my hair in a bun, wear a kitty cat sweater vest and tell everyone to hush. They assume that I read books and play with little kids all day. In fact, my son, now 10, thought that for several years. He would tell his friends and teachers “my mommy goes to work to read.”
I am the public relations coordinator. When my job involves reading, it usually includes news articles so I can keep up with what is going on the community and books about social media as a PR tool, best practices and other materials to help me be better at my job. My office is not actually in a library so I don’t get to see the little kids picking books or enjoying storytime. I can’t just browse the shelves on a break to pick out the coolest games, latest movies or classic books I want to get lost in.
I miss being in a branch but am reminded that I didn’t choose a career that involves staying up on the latest books, hanging with kids at storytime, working the reference or circulation desk. I chose a different type of customer service. I’m more behind the scenes holding a support staff position. My role is to promote the programs, materials and services offered at the Library. I have promotional items designed, work with the media, plan and promote fundraising events, take photos, oversee social media, work with traditional media, do a lot of paperwork and much more. I want our library to succeed, which means having high numbers at programs like storytime and supporting our staff.
Since I do not work in the public setting, my position does have a little more flexibility. I am able to volunteer to work at larger library programs, which I love doing. I can pop in on a storytime when I have a few minutes. I have the opportunity to get to know coworkers throughout the system and assist patrons through social media.
I was at a party last night and when I answered the question “Where do you work?” I was immediately asked if I knew the Dewey Decimal System as another friend hollered out “she’s a librarian.” I’m not sure why my friends find this so funny but I’m glad I can entertain them. I am also glad that my son finally believes that I don’t go to work to read all day (how cool of a job would that be!).
Do your friends and family have any misconceptions about your job? Is there something you wish you could do at your job that others get to do? Share your thoughts here.