Public Library: A Day in the Life

Hello, I’m a librarian for a large, suburban Chicago library. Primarily, I’m a children’s librarian, but I am also one the library’s webmasters. Welcome to my day!

Today is a double desk shift day. Our library schedules the reference desk in four hour shifts, and today I have two shifts back-to-back, but at different locations, which makes for a very lively day. With that, here we go:

1pm-4:45pm, Location #1

– My shift starts with the traditional Changing of the Guards- chatting with the librarians I was replacing, finding out what had happened during the morning shift.

– Email! 96 unread emails are waiting for me to answer.

– 3rd email reveals that there are several glitches on our newly upgraded website that need fixing. I start investigating what needs to be done, find a solution, and email the website team my findings.

– Finished reading email. In the process, I added two new meetings, plus a possible third, to my schedule, in addition to one new tween program. I forwarded an interesting program idea to our Children’s Program Coordinator, and was amazed at the awesome graphics our designer created for some upcoming events.

– More trouble with website glitches- this time I need to contact our computer support time. I spend an agonizing 15 minutes trying to explain to our computer support company just what is going on. In the midst of that, a repair person for our color printer arrives and I try not to get the two issue mixed up!

– During a quiet period, I helped a co-worker set up a Facebook Ad for the library. While doing that, we did some reference for ourselves to find out what an “Auto Intender” is. The answer? Someone who intends to buy an automobile within the next 6 months.

– Back to the website glitches! Had a brief, on the spot conference with a fellow webteam member where we filled each other in on various issues and what needed to be done.

– Perpetuating the myth that a librarian can actually read on the job, I had my personal copy of The Hunger Games with me on desk. I’m trying to re-read it before the movie comes out. It’s a great conversation starter, and I have several patrons and co-workers stop and talk with me about the book and upcoming movie. By the end of my shift, my personal copy has a hold on it for a fellow staff member since all 30 copies in the library are checked out with over 100 people on the waiting list.

– Throughout the four hour shift, helped multiple patrons find books: humor books, adventure books, picture books, realistic fiction, and reluctant readers. All left with armfuls of books. Hopefully, they find a few new favorites in their stacks!

– Congratulated three different children on getting their first library card!

– Did some computer troubleshooting for patrons. Computer troubleshooting always means that I have to crawl around on the floor, checking cable connections.

– After leaving the desk, on my way to my second shift, stopped to talk to a co-worker and had a quick 5 minute brainstorming session on future programs for teens. The Hunger Games featured prominently in our planning ideas.

4:45pm- 5:05pm, Driving in My Car

– Drove to the second location. Due to rain, the traffic was slow. Due to the double shift, I ate dinner in the car.


– Take two for the Changing of the Guards! The afternoon was busy at the second location, so there was lots to share and know for the evening shift.

– Changing of the Guards turned into a discussion about an upcoming tween program (Duct Tape Crafts!) and the logistics of it. That, in turn, evolved into a discussion of summer program for tweens. It’s just around the corner, even though its only March!

– The desk is hopping! The library is a popular place tonight, and I spend the evening answering questions about Pokemon, Native Americans, the Louisiana Purchase, the Dave Matthew Band, and more.

– Took a moment to check my email and discovered a department scheduling crisis. Sent off emails to resolve the problem and managed to fill the gap.

– Went back to the web glitches and began to re-code some of the more troublesome areas.
– Problems abound with the public computers, printer and copier! I fixed paper jams, solved browser errors, refilled paper, and then some.

– Registered a person to vote.

– Took a breath, and realized it was near quitting time. Began closing procedures: cleaning up abandoned books, shutting of computers.

– With everything all cleaned up and ready for the morning, headed out the door, done for the day, and ready to start all over again tomorrow!


3 thoughts on “Public Library: A Day in the Life

  1. Pingback: Travel Reading | Chasing Reference

  2. Pingback: Chasing Reference: One Year Later | Chasing Reference

  3. Pingback: Public Librarian: Day in the Life | Chasing Reference

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s