1. I’ve learned that library school does not prepare you for working in an actual library. Yes, I did learn a lot of things in library school, but knowing everything in the world about metadata won’t help you when you have an angry patron in front of you. Or the toilet in the bathroom clogs again or someone sets the outside ashtray on fire (yes, it happened.) I learned so much knowledge in library school, but most of my learning to be an actual librarian has happened on the job as I go along. I feel like by retail experience has been invaluable to me, which leads me to my next point…
  2. Being a librarian is very much a customer service job. At least in the type of library I work in, I’m a reference librarian in a city library system. My jobs mostly has me helping people search the catalog (or searching it for them), finding the materials they’re looking for on our shelves, helping patrons using the computers with problems, and figuring out why they can’t read a book on their e-reader. I would say about 70% of the patrons I deal with on a regular basis are reasonable, nice people. That leaves a good amount of people to be difficult, in fact the first patron I helped on my own, after being hired, was extremely difficult. He was unreasonable, loud, and saying things I was pretty sure were going to get him punched. I fell back into the routine I had learned in my two-ish years in retail: help them and get them out as quick as possible. It worked, and it continues to work a majority of the time.
  3. Some people just want to watch the world burn. My retail skills come in handy a majority of the time, but not always. Some patrons seem to enjoy being difficult or rude or whatever. I’ve never understood it.
  4. It’s way more rewarding than I had imagined. My library serves a large Latino community to the point where we have a Hispanic Liaison on staff. Many patrons come to our library just to get help from her, and most of them don’t have anywhere else to go for help. Our liaison is a wonderful person, who works so hard to help people; working with her is one of my favorite parts of the job.
  5. I need to read more. When I was in library school, I didn’t read much outside of what was required for class. I missed out on a lot of popular book, which is a disadvantage when trying to help with a reader’s advisory. There are also many well know authors I’d never read before starting this job, I read my first Margret Atwood book this past year. I’ve always enjoyed reading so it’s been nice to get back in a grove with it.
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