No matter how slick you are they hardly ever let you get away with reading on the job, and the peoplewatching is nil because there are no cute people in the library. Really I'm just upset because there weren't any there today. And that's a lie too, but it didn't matter because the curly blonde girl and the Hasidic punk in the hat both finished their research and were gone before I could fake an urgent shelving need in their area.

And I don't like being asked questions, I don't like being visible really. I wish I could come in and just alphabetize, impose a little bit of arbitrary order for a few hours and go home without having to deal with any copier machine trauma or microfiche questions. I always just tell them it's been broken for years. I don't know the real answers.

Do you have any idea how many rotten books live in your local library? In high school I worked in a bookstore and it was much better because the crappy books got sent away, back to the publisher or to sale-table limbo, out of my sight either way. Here we don't get rid of anything except in the big once-a-year sham sale where we know nobody's going to buy musty old A.H. Maslow even when we mark him down to a quarter. Walk down the stacks in your library and look at all the titles you've been tuning out. Choose a shelf in an area that interests you and read every single spine. Maybe you'll find one you'd like to read but probably you'll just find twenty you'd rather burn. When's the last time you heard a library was expanding its collection of something, and when does it ever do the opposite? We are an obese entity which will never shrink.

I do like when I'm scheduled for the information desk because people have an incorrect impression of what that means, they think they can just call me up and I'm going to go run over to the Encyclopedia Britannica and look up the capital of Denmark.

Yes maam please hold while I go do your research for you, it's no trouble, I love being pooped on, no really.

Also the info desk is poorly placed, it's right next to a studious grove of tables and chairs. The phone rings and I answer it and what am I supposed to do, whisper? I get dirty looks from the readers and I make my eyebrows all snarly right back.

Come on, lady. This is the quietest public place you're going to find in a city, this is as good as it gets. You knew there were going to be other people here and you knew at least one of them was going to be annoying. Today, it's me. Go read your Diana Gabaldon at home.

I have never, ever said Shhhhhh.
For some reason, libraries which are city-owned are allowed to pay something like a dollar less than minimum wage to their employees. If this is not the case, then someone spent a couple hundred dollars for me while I wasn't looking. I got $4.25 per hour while working at the local library one summer.

You can't read the books you're shelving, which was one of my reasons for taking the job in the first place. You can't talk to the other employees, especially the attractive ones, without a supervisor coming along and noticing. And when you are caught, you can bet on being given a lecture of some sort, which consists of how you're fortunate to be working there (even though they're short on staff, and are always trying to hire more), and how their job is so much harder than yours. Blah blah blah.

While you're shelving books in the adult non-fiction section, people will come up and ask you where they can find books to read to their kids. While in the books-on-tape section, people will come along and ask where they can check out library books. While you're working the check out counter, people ask where the encyclopedias. You know, but you don't necessarily tell them. Mostly, you just point to one of the largish signs nearby, which have little arrows explaining where things are. Not that it would do any good to actually tell them; it's practically an invitation for them to get lost and come back to you within several seconds. Sometimes repeatedly.

There are, however, perks. You can check out books that nobody is allowed to check out (reference, rare, etc) simply by virtue of being able to walk out the back door, where there is no detector to see if you're walking off with books that haven't been "properly" checked out. These books always showed up back in the correct place after people were done persuing them, of course; it would never have gone on if there were any concern about that. And when books were checked out legitimately, there was no concern about whether they were late or not. It's easy to take care of that when you run the computer that handles these things. You can also make out, smoke pot, etc. in the elevators between the first and second floors. This was standard practice for the employees, as it was necessary to remain sane, or at least to keep from quitting altogether. Nobody noticed, somehow.

It's been about 3 years. I don't go to the library much anymore. I owe them too much in late fines. But somehow, I miss it there.
Working in my public library was probably my favorite job.  I worked there for three years during high school as an aide in the children's computer room, leaving only because I had graduated and was leaving for college.

1) I was able to read all the time.  If no kids or parents needed help and nothing was broken, I was pretty much free to read, do my homework, or just about anything else as long as I didn't leave the floor.  When they got an Ethernet connection piped into the computer room, they didn't even bother me about using that for my own purposes.

2) The pay was great.  While most of my friends were making minimum wage (or less), I was paid more than double.

3) I finally got to find out what was in the "NO ADMITTANCE" section of the library, the curiosity of which had bothered me for years. And no, I'm not telling.

4) I had never, nor have I since, met such modest, polite, and nice people as the librarians I worked with.

5) I did my small part in educating the next generation of America.  Coming into the job at 15 years of age, I hated children.  I had been a Counselor-in-Training for the previous two summers at different camps, and I just really never got used to the whole "babysitter cum guardian" experience.  The fact that I was being paid peanuts (cheap ones at that) didn't help.  But the library was different--this was computing, something I knew and was excited to help people with.  After working at the library for only a short while, I started actually looking forward to questions instead of dreading them.  The look in their eyes when they discovered something new was enough.

There were things I didn't like, of course (The public library is NOT a day care center for your kids), but the positives far outweighed the few negatives.

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