Not too long ago, a library student asked me about my job. I am closing in on my 20th year of library service and both Holly and I have done tasks along the entire library spectrum, from shelving to hiring and firing. For a long time, I thought it was personality or training that made one successful in library service. Of course this is true to a certain extent, but I really think the test of staying power is the ability to roll with the changes and absurdity of this career.
Library school students: regardless of your fabulous portfolio, your success in library work will be more about your ability to manage that illusive “other duties as assigned” part of any job. Both Holly and I are here to tell you that whenever you think you have actually heard it all or seen it all, you will most likely be facing something wholly unbelievable before the day is out. At the same time, your job will require you to answer the same questions over and over, and you have to make it look like it isn’t making you crazy. Holly and I have helpfully compiled a list of those duties that just don’t quite make it into those job descriptions. I do not think our list is even that unusual for public librarians as I have heard similar tales from my professional cohorts. So newbies, as you contemplate your future career goals, consider the following “extra” duties in library jobs. For you library veterans, make sure you include these skills on your next performance review or resume.
Please share your own special “other duties as assigned” in the comments.
Peace, Love, and Stable Library Funding in 2018,
PS. Stay tuned for our Best of 2017 list coming soon!
Other Duties as Assigned
- Vacuum the wall in the youth section to suck up all the box elder bugs that have laid claim to the wall and shelves of the picture book section. At the same time calm parents and kids by assuring them that the library is not infested with biting poisonous bugs.
- Have a meeting about bugs and write a procedure for vacuuming bugs and disposing of said bugs.
- Deliver toilet paper to the men’s room as a 35 year old man has used his cellphone to call his mother and ask her to call the library and tell them they are out of toilet paper in the men’s room and he can’t leave until they do so.
- Help clean up reindeer pee in the library after a holiday program.
- Develop a urine procedure for the library.
- Gently explain to parents that it wouldn’t be possible to have a separate toddler story time for “gifted toddlers” even if their child is way beyond finger plays and songs.
- Tell a man to not adjust himself during story time.
- Tell a man to zip up his pants.
- Write a policy about inappropriate behavior in story time.
- Pull a dead deer out of the parking lot before story time starts.
- Shovel snow.
- Shovel more snow.
- Warn people about snow as they approach the building.
- Write a procedure for staff about dealing with snow.
- Remove a pony from the lobby.
- Take a snake out of the book drop.
- Take a mouse out of the book drop.
- Help a child remove their hand stuck in the book drop.
- Write a procedure about animals and children in the book drop for staff.
- Promise a customer to discuss with the director possible solutions to removing the ghost hiding in the stacks.
- Add an agenda item to staff meeting about ghosts in the library.
- Explain to patron that we can’t remove the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition as it follows our collection development guidelines and is not considered p0rn.
- Explain to p0rn guy that what he is viewing is most definitely p0rn.
- Have a meeting about p0rn and write a procedure and update policy.
- Help angry patron who is cussing at the online catalog and beating up the keyboard because he can’t find books on anger management.
- Answer millions of calls about eclipse glasses.
- Have an answer ready for patrons asking if the library can reschedule or add another session of the eclipse viewing party.
- Have answers and sources ready for questions about wearing sunglasses or driving while wearing eclipse glasses.
- Write a policy and procedure for all future astronomical events at the library.
- If anyone calls asking for the head bitch in charge, pass it to your supervisor…unless you are the head bitch in charge.