No Sympathy for the Library Student

Hello fair readers!

I was reading through Unshelved, the library webcomic, and was interested when they introduced a library student character.  And quite frankly, it made me sad.

I keep looking back over library school and thinking about how inspired I was.  The ideas.  The essays on change.  My thoughts on linear management styles and practical ways to integrate Web 2.0 into the library.  I remember actually saying to someone that I wanted to “hit the ground running”.

Now I’m not sure if this is just the burden of being entry level or if this is something going on in the library world, but “hitting the ground running” was almost completely impossible.

My library is busy.  And when I say busy…I mean BUSY.  We barely have time to even get off the desk to catalog books.  So the idea of intergrating all the cool things and tools I learned about in library school is slowing going further and further away.

Now I realize that many libraries are doing this…and doing it well.  But I wonder about smaller, busy, underfunded, struggling libraries.  And yes, these also seem to be the ones that actually have jobs open right now.  How do we start becoming progressive when we barely have time to do the things that we need to do just to make the library run each day.

It will be a great relief to me when I am at the point when I can actually utilize some of the skills I honed in library school.  I am going to be brutally honest.  I am worried about libraries.  And I’m not worried that we are becoming irrelevant.  The amount of people, the needs that they have, the way I am helping people every minute of every day leads me to believe that libraries are not going anywhere.   What I am worried about is that there are some things in library school classes and the reality of working in certain libraries that just do not match up.

Which, in short, is incredibly frustrating for the library student.  Like the one in the comic.

I do not mean to sound doom and gloom.  In fact, with the economy the way it is I believe that we need libraries and librarians more than ever.  As I have said before, knowledge is power.  And libraries provide that knowledge.

I just hope that our librarians, especially the new ones, like me…can stay inspired.

Have a lovely weekend fair readers!  And enjoy the beautiful Autumn weather!

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2 responses to “No Sympathy for the Library Student

  1. Pretty Hip Librarian

    Welcome to my world. I feel your pain. I feel the same way you do. While we are in graduate school we are inspired to move the world, however once we spend time in our real “public positions”, it’s simply not the same.

    I also feel super inspired at the reference desk, and I have so many ideas in my mind, but there are days that I simply don’t have time to do everything I learned in library school.

    This is why I suggest to you to make time to organize and plan programs in your library. It works for us at the Cicero Public Library. Don’t get frustrated and don’t give up on your ideas. Go ahead and plan them out.

  2. Well we do plan programs but I do almost all of my planning on desk. It’s funny. In my reference class I was told that two hour shifts were ideal. And that you should never read or look occupied while on desk. Now that just makes me laugh! I do all my collection development, cataloging, planning, etc. while also working a reference shift. I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing. It was just a bit of a shock to see that this is how some libraries function. And quite frankly, I don’t feel like I’m at my best when I’m stretched over multiple tasks like this.

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