Wednesday, 11 May 2011

One Year as a Library Assistant

Shhh... I've been working in the library for a year yesterday!! (My boss said: 'It feels like longer!' ... That's good, right?)

I feel like I'm really getting the hang of this. I have survived the biscuit embargo, and am 'professional-looking' enough to convince an innocent borrower that there is a sequel to Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath called The Pomegranates of Despair.

I haven't quite mastered the art of spotting who will appreciate my 'humour'. A man brought in a bunch of books about archery and wasn't amused when I asked him if they'd 'left him all a-quiver'. Some fall on stony ground.

But another time, a lady asked if we had any books on mind-reading. When I said: 'I knew you were going to say!' that she laughed like a loon.

So, here are 10 important lessons I have learned:

  1. First of all, we learned (alright... made up) lots of songs about librarians

  2. That you... yes YOU... are called 'borrowers'

  3. That technological wizardry is not as wide-spread as we supposed * and most library assistants are strangers to the spreadsheet

  4. That there tends to be a 1980's attitude to tea breaks (good!) and health and safety* ... nobody comes running at you with an accident form if you try and remove staples from a wooden board with a tin opener.

  5. That I'm not the only person who borrows guide books and takes them on holiday with me

  6. That you don't want to go to 'the scary branch' during a visit from the local primary school

  7. Useful general life lessons like: What to do if kidnapped by a comic beat poet or What to do if a dog eats your library book

  8. Oh and lots of stuff about books and authors and the basics of the Dewey decimal system... which I am starting to incorporate at home

  9. That libraries really, really do have an invaluable place in the community - lots of really useful services used and much-appreciated by lots of different kinds of people... and the last bastion of no-catches FREE stuff!

  10. That there are still people who never go to their library, who come in grudgingly to use the photocopier or one of the computers in an emergency or join 'to support libraries in principle' and are astonished at the range and quality of our books, DVDs and facilities... and, indeed, jokes... or is that just me?

Go on - visit your local library this week to help me celebrate!

* Sweeping generalisations based on limited research


  1. Having had eleven years in an issuing and returning environment, I have to say that photograph is very convincing. You really look like a Library Assistant! In fact, more like a Librarian!

  2. In fact the only question I have over the appropriateness of the picture is the saucy way you appear to be picking your nose.

  3. I think they should have cardboard cut-outs of you ssssshing throughout the land! Mind you, let's not give them any ideas. Our local council seem to have recently replaced the bulk of the central library staff with ghastly 'Self-Service' desks. How do I support my Library and refuse to use them in protest at the same time?

  4. You have to tell me which is "the scary branch" !!!

  5. I love that photo of you. Perfect!

  6. Martin - Although I have to confess that a borrow had to tell me to shush the other day! *blushes*

    Dave - Yes, but it's always so hard just pick one isn't it?

    Laura - I suppose you should just be glad the library's still open. They'll never replace me with a ma... ma... ma... zzzzzzz eeeeee ERROR: Possible problem with your *.gwt.xml module file.
    The compile time user.agent value (opera) does not match the runtime user.agent value (unknown). Expect more errors.

    CG - I'll give you a clue. It begins with 'L'.

    Maria - Thanks *blushes*

  7. Oh, congrats! I love the photo and agree it should be posted throughout your branch. I was most amused by this on your list: "nobody comes running at you with an accident form if you try and remove staples from a wooden board with a tin opener."

  8. A most erotic photograph. I did not know such extreme examples were available on the internet.
    Have not read the Pomegranates sequel, but his "Melons of Lust" was a best seller.
    Didn't know they still used the Dewey system. If you were a proper girl you would have sorted the books by colour.

  9. M Pax - me too!

    Rainy - It's all true! (Although to be fair, someone did come rushing up to me and say: 'Have you tried the kitchen knife?'

    Vicus - Tut! How DARE you!... I'm no 'proper' girl. Everybody knows... fiction by author, non-fiction by subject, only FRUIT and CLOTHES by colour

  10. All so true Clare and very funny!

  11. M Pax - so do I!

    Elaine - Oh hello! *whistles nonchalantly whilst quickly reading back to see if there's anything incriminating here*