A day in the life of a librarian

As a library user you may already be familiar with the many wonderful services the Princeton Public Library offers (if not you can learn more), but did you ever wonder what life is like on the other side of the desk?

As a newly minted Library Science degree holder I am continuously amazed at the daily surprises and variety inherent in my job at PPL. The term “librarian” no longer refers to a bespectacled matron corralled behind a desk and whose every other utterance is “Shh!” (In fact, this was never the case, but I digress.) Luckily there are more than a handful of library workers and library enthusiasts eager to share their stories through books and other media, and we have quite a nice collection of library materials about libraries right here! I’ve been slowly working my way through these items myself, and though I haven’t gotten to them all I can tell you that what I have read/watched/listened to is fun, interesting, and true to many of my own experiences.

1. This Book Is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All – by Marilyn Johnson (2010) In this fun, rollicking foray into investigative journalism Johnson, who isn’t in the library field, immerses herself in the profession by interviewing librarians and library employees across the spectrum in an effort to prove that libraries are very much relevant in modern society. The overall message she is trying to convey is that libraries (both physical and digital) and their staff are the unsung heroes of the information age, and she uses abundant wit and humor to do so.

2. The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family – by Joshua Hanagarne (2013) This touching memoir recounts the author’s journey through childhood and into a fulfilling library career while at the same time coping with Tourette’s syndrome and grappling with his Mormon faith. Oh, and there’s bodybuilding, too! Hanagarne is able to blend the funny with the serious in such a way that you can’t help but become entranced by his storytelling.

3. Free For All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library – by Don Borchert (2007) Is the library still a place of solitude, where great thinkers and the more studious among us go for a bit of relaxation and respite? Borchet doesn’t think so. With over a decade’s experience working in public libraries he observes the “free-for-all” that can somtimes occur in what was once though of as a more tight-laced public institution. From the comical to the downright shocking he tells all in a memoir that is sure to entertain and give you a whole new perspective on your friendly neighborhood library.

4. Quiet, Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian – by Scott Douglas (2008) The author of this memoir is a librarian at the Anaheim Public Library and has been chronicling his experiences there since 2003. From the occasional rodent problem to naughy teenagers stashing books where they don’t belong, this memoir sings with blunt humor that awakens the reader to the fact that libraries are a far cry from what the age-old stereotypes would have you believe.

If the above biblio-tales don’t satisfy your hunger to know what it’s really like to be in the shoes of your favorite librarian – well then just ask them! While you’re at it you can pick up a good book or DVD, grab this month’s hot magazine issue, pop in a classic rock CD, sit in on a lecture in the community room, or, well, you get the idea. At the library (and especially at PPL) the possibilities are endless.

(Flickr photo by .SilentMode, available under a Creative Commons Attribution license.)

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