Benbrook Library / Musings

It’s a Cool Job, and Maybe You Should Do It



A couple of days ago, as I was explaining our 3D printer to a highly enthusiastic young boy, he turned to me and said, “Your job is cool.” This declaration was shortly followed by, “This is the best library!” The lad, who instantly became my second-favorite kid in the world after Home Alone-era Macaulay Culkin, was of course absolutely right. I do have a cool job, and this is the best library. Sometimes, in the hustle and bustle of day-to-day library existence, I forget these things, so it’s nice to have affirmation. It’s done wonders to buoy my spirits, and a good spirit buoying is just what I need right now, as next week, I’m slated for my first Career Day.

The thought of speaking at Career Day is a little exciting, since being asked to speak means I have a legitimate career that kids ostensibly will want to hear about, or at least, that teachers think their students should hear about. Underneath that thin veneer of excitement, however, is a solid block of terror. How do I talk to 4 – 6 graders? What do I say? What if they think I’m lame? What if I have to follow some pretty boy fireman? While I have no control over that last one, and have limited control over the third one, I can do my best to get a handle on the first two. I’ll probably talk to them just like I talk to everyone else; I tend to speak to children as if they’re miniature-sized adults. The crux of my dread is my uncertainty about what to say about my cool job. Why should you want to become a librarian? I’ll now attempt to work that out before your eyes:

1) If you love to read. This is probably the most commonly cited reason I’ve heard for getting into the field from other librarians, and it ranked highly for me as well. While books certainly are not all libraries are anymore (really, they never were), they’re still book-centric places, and a passion for the printed word is a quality that makes someone a good match with librarianship. You get to be surrounded by books all day (a huge plus, but it’s also a bit of a tease, since you don’t actually get to spend working hours reading the books), and you get to select books for your library’s collections and help people find the right books for them. If you want to work with children, you get to spread the joy of reading to them by doing storytime and other programs.

While being a biblioholic is a great reason to become a librarian, it shouldn’t be the only reason. Libraries, along with the world in general, are evolving rapidly, so to be truly happy in the library world, it helps…

2) If you love technology. Libraries are becoming increasingly high-tech places. The books themselves are trading in their ink and paper for bits and bytes. There are apps for everything now, and libraries have gotten in on the action. Many people come to the library solely to use public computers, so basic computer troubleshooting skills are a must. More and more libraries are implementing MakerSpaces that feature 3D printers, music and design software, robotics, laser engravers, and other pieces of technology that help library users create. Technology is constantly changing peoples’ day-to-day lives, which changes their needs and expectations, which changes the approach librarians need to take and with what they need to be familiar. If you like to stay on the cutting edge, the library is a good place for you.

Keeping up with the next big thing is important, but it’s also important to come up with your own big things, so library work would be good for you…

3) If you love to be creative. One of the best parts of my job is getting to think up ideas and put them into action. Whether it’s developing fun summer programs or crafting an eye-catching promotional flyer, librarians need to be able to get creative. If you’ve got a strong imagination and big ideas, you would make a great librarian. What would make you a truly primo, A1 librarian is…

4) If you love to help people. I think this is the most important attribute for a librarian to have, because when you get down to it, helping people is what libraries are all about, and it’s up to librarians to do the helping. Whether it’s help finding a book, using a database, working on a resume, making a copy, researching a topic, navigating the Internet, downloading an e-book or magazine, operating MakerSpace equipment, or pretty much anything else within reason, assisting people with their needs is THE priority in library work. I routinely drop everything to help patrons, and while it can be the most challenging part of the job, it’s also the most rewarding. If you want to commit yourself to the enrichment of others, librarianship may just be the perfect career for you.

There are definitely other reasons to become a librarian (maybe you’re hoping to fall into relic hunting like this guy), but the way I see it, these are the top four. Possess these four passions and you too can have a kid-certified cool job.

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 )

Google photo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s