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I work in the library at my college, and I just realized what a fun job it is. I've got hours on Saturday mornings (where I can do homework, because everyone goes out and gets shellacked on Friday nights. On Sunday nights, like tonight, it's a bustling place, because there is a procrastinatory army of kids here. So the day before class is the day to get your act together (you should've seen this place right before midterms.. ugh, I'm not even gonna think about what it'll be like in December, before finals).

Well, on Saturday morning, nobody's here, so I can read for French and Philosophy, or play Freecell (I actually learned how to play it here), or sleep on the tabletop, you know, fun fun stuff. Well... I get paid for it, so getting payed for study time that you should be using anyway isn't so bad.

On Sunday nights, I do a lot of counterwork (charging books out to people)... and I just found the weirdest and most fun line to say to people when they come up to the counter. Actually, it just works on attractive young girls.

Example:

AYG: Hey, can you check me out?

Me: Yes, yes I can.
It's all about the tone of voice here, without that, it's not funny at all.

So... in summation, if you get a job as a work study student in college, either get a job where you don't do anything, or be a counter commando.

When in high school I also worked in a village public library.

Since I was hired by my mother's best friend I had to be a bit more cautious in planning my escapes from responsibility. Fortunately the "new" library (completed in 1973) was designed for efficiency. The basement, in particular, became both the preferred butt break place and the place where the janitor chilled out when he should have been cleaning out the HVAC system.

My usual job after school was to reshelve non-fiction books. After working for a hour I would find a book I liked and head on over to either one of two hiding places.

One hiding place was a series of steel cages on the top floor for records and periodicals. Unfortunately this part of the level opened up into a vast open space through which my boss could monitor us. Needless to say we student employees would only sit up there in the last hour of work.

Better yet was one of the vast store rooms down in the basement. Here young workers could read risque material or just sit, glazed, looking at the ceiling while on a supposed lunch break. One hapless young man who had been suspected of being a homosexual was found reading a book about Attic Greek sexual practices. Found opened to a photo of a tutor and his charge on a vase, he shouted loudly, past the cinder blocks it seems:

"I'M NOT GAY! I JUST LIKE LOOKING AT THESE BOOKS!"

Perhaps he was just into art. Kids are cruel.

The best activity was working the young adult parties. While the melodious sounds of Vanilla Ice and New Kids on the Block floated through the basement from the conference hall, the "bouncer" and I would sit in the storeroom, smoke some butts, and then serve shitty off brand soda to flocks of 13 year olds who merely circulated around the room in chaotic motion rather than dance.

The worse part of this crappy dances were these kids who would invade our sanctum. Then our boss would come in, see us just sitting there, giving us this look. I'm glad she didn't come in when we were smoking.

My life revolves around libraries.

My favorite treat when I was little was a trip to the library and then the ice cream shop, to please me in my thirst for knowledge and my brother in his intolerance for everything that didn't involve frozen dairy treats. When I started being able to read on my own, it was all I ever did. I decided I wanted to make Librarianship my career around seventh grade. When I turned fifteen, I ran out and applied for a position at the nearest public library. I told them about my commitment to serving the public and that my superpower was giving awesome book recommendations, and they hired me! At fifteen I had my dream job, and was being paid well above minimum wage. I began pointing and laughing at McDonald's drones. In the year-or-so since I've taken the job, I have gained lots of experience about what such a career will entail, and I still feel that libraries are where I want to spend the rest of my life. I don't have to pay library fees, picking up books for family or schoolwork is easy since I am there anyways, and my knowledge of the Dewey Decimal System and the alphabet proves really handy when trying to find anything in any library. I love my job.

However, there are some major annoyances to my job that it seems that the public is not aware of! As a purveyor of knowledge, I'd like to share with you what it's like to work at a library, in the form of a list on what not to do (or, at least at the one I work at). Be a good citizen and I won't have to shush you.

THINGS WE HATE:

People who whisper. You are allowed to talk at a normal level, believe it or not. We like to be able to hear you when we help you find something.

Teenagers, especially in groups. I am a teenager myself, but when I'm at work seeing people of my own age group makes me groan. They like to talk loudly and smack their gum and flirt with one another. This is not appropriate behavior for such a temple of books!

Creepy regulars. Some are dangerous and scary (it's really good entertainment to watch a 70-year-old librarian frighten a 35-year-old man into leaving the premises). The others are just weird people. I suppose you can't blame the latter type, but we still don't love them.

Having to call 911. The library is a public place where people come to relax and spent a lot of time, so a lot of strange situations tend to occur. As someone who spends between 7 and 30 hours a week at the library, I see a lot of them. We've had to seek police help to calm a mentally retarded woman who got upset and starting ripping off her clothes in the book-on-CD section, and called the ambulance a few times, due to seizures and difficulty breathing and other scary things. Please, if you think you might drop over dead in the next few hours, don't come hang out at the library!

People who check out four thousand items at once. This is especially a problem with music CDs and children's picture books. It takes forever, it pisses off the people behind you, and it makes us develop barcode-scanning tics. Music CDs are especially bad, because we have to take the anti-thievery contraptions off them (known to my coworkers and I as "traps.")

Any large sections of wobbly books. Like knitting books (745 in the Dewey Decimal System). And cooking books (641). And books about the postal service exam. If you see a row of books that are barely staying up, don't knock them over. Don't even check them out if it's not absolutely necessary; we hate putting them away.

Issuing library cards. A necessary evil, but all the paperwork makes it an evil nonetheless. Just try to cooperate, and it will be over quickly.

People who refuse to leave the library until 30 seconds before closing, or those who come in at that time and insist they need something. Get a life! We want to go home, and you are not making us happy as you liesurely fold up the newspaper you have been reading for three hours and saunter casually out the door. Likewise, we don't care if your daughter has a book report due tomorrow. We would have happily served you five minutes ago. We will tell you we have already turned off the computers. This is librarian-speak for "too bad."

This is what it's like to work at a library. It's an amazing job that I am very passionate about, but the annoyances give a better idea of the experience than a "day in the life of" rant, no?

The above list may not prove my point, librarians really are very nice people and we do not "shush" you unless we have to. We love to see that people are enjoying and using a facility that we are so passionate about, and are happy to serve. We don't mind you asking us "dumb" questions, or yapping endlessly about the books you got (enthusiastic people are the highlight of my workday!), or spending hours on the public computers, or even chewing your gum a little too loudly. We like humans, we promise. But when you come to visit us over at the Public Library, please be considerate to the staff. And don't feed the animals.

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