My Pros and Cons of Working in a Public Library

589455ec49ddfe70cd4f21c1938f86c2All photos found on Pinterest.

I love my job. There are so many great things about working in a public library. The books, the people, the freedom to read while working (sometimes). It’s not the highest paying job or the most interesting, but I find it to be the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. If you are thinking about a part time job at your local public library or maybe you are seeking a degree in library science and expect to build a career in a public library- keep reading for my personal list of pros and cons of working in a public library!

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Pro #1: I’m surrounded by books! Obviously this is the best thing about working in a public library. I am never without a book! It’s magical.

Con #1: “I don’t know the title, but it has a blue cover”. Because I work in a library, patrons expect me to know exactly what book they are looking for…even if all they know about it is that it has a blue cover and it’s about dogs. Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes I surprise myself and I know exactly what book they are talking about. But most of the time I have to spend 15+ minutes on Google to find the damn book.

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Pro #2: I’m full of useless literary information. The Dewey Decimal System (now that we have technology), the drinking habits of famous authors, what every spell in Harry Potter does…yeah. I actually know these things.

Con #2: Said useless literary information cannot be used outside of the library.

Pro #3: Library Patrons. Every once in awhile you will get that one patron that is just so appreciative of your help! One lady actually offered to take me to dinner…I declined..but it’s the thought that counts!

Con #3: Library Patrons. I’m sorry that you can’t log into your Facebook page, sir. But yelling at me and causing a scene isn’t going to make it work.

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Pro #4: NEW BOOKS. As soon as new books are ready to be put on the shelves, I will usually look through them and grab a few I’ve been wanting to read. There is no better feeling than being the first person to read a library book!

Con #4: Self Control. I check out 15 new books and then they sit on my dresser for three weeks…so I renew them. And then they sit on my dresser for another three weeks. Having easy access to books makes you do crazy things.

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Pro #5: I’m helping people AND learning at the same time. I LOVE working our reference desk because I have way more interaction with people. Also, if I don’t know how to help them- I will take that time to learn from one of my supervisors so that I can properly help them next time. It’s a win-win! Yay for education!

Con #5: Information overload. I’m all about learning new things, but there is a lot of information not related to books you need to learn when working in a public library. Microfilm, Excel, building resumes’, e-libraries, making copies, sending faxes, looking up tax forms, scanning documents, looking up phone numbers and other information on the web, the list goes on and on and on. I have been working in a public library setting for three years and I still ask questions every single day!

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Pro #6: The people. Librarians are the friendliest people in the world. It’s a known fact. Look it up. I thoroughly enjoy everyone I work with, so coming to work isn’t like coming to work at all! My co-workers inspire me with their creativity and their willing to help others!

Con #6: Getting the books back on the shelves. I know in your head you probably picture us waving our wands and the books from the book drop magically flying back to their rightful places on the shelves. I wish. Treading in the snow, rain, or extreme heat to gather the books from the book drop, sorting them and checking them in, and then placing them on the shelf is a group effort and probably takes about two hours for a large book cart. So, you’re welcome.

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Pro #7: I don’t feel compelled to have to put on makeup every day. That’s the truth. I work in a pretty relaxed setting. If i’m in the stacks all day then i’ll probably sweat it off anyway! And I feel absolutely no judgment!

Con #7: Dirty books. I know, it’s strange to add this to my list…but i’m one of those people who are extremely grossed out when a book is returned and it looks like someone used it for a dinner plate. Or they smell like cigarettes and kitty litter. You are borrowing these books, take care of them!

Pro #8: I get to recommend my favorite books and authors. I love when someone comes into the library not sure what to read next- it gives me the opportunity to introduce some of my favorites! And when they come back to tell me they loved it…even better!

Con #8: I’m expected to always have good recommendations. I may be surrounded by books all day, but I have my own personal taste…and that may not match yours. So no. I cannot recommend a great Western for you. Sorry.

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Pro #9: Extra time. Especially when i’m working at our circulation desk, I will usually have some extra down-time to read or write. That’s always a good thing!

Con #9: Unstructured schedule. This is actually kind of a pro for me, but I know it would be difficult for others to adjust. I work with a lot of college students, so I don’t have a set schedule. On one hand, I love this because I never get bored! I’m constantly working in different areas and different times. It works for me. On the other, I can go from working 8am one day and 1pm the next so it’s next to impossible to have a normal sleep schedule!

Pro #10: Librarianship is a constantly evolving profession. You can take that as a pro or a con, depending on how you look at it!

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I hope you found these pros and cons helpful- or at least a little entertaining! Let me know your best and worst library experiences in the comments!

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Author: Revitalized Reading by Danica

Working in a public library for three years has introduced me to some of the most interesting books and book related ideas! I am a creator, dreamer, and lover of all literature and i'm here to share my bookish ways with you!

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