Confessions of a Library Assistant

Working in a library for a couple of years now has been a real eyeopener. There are so many things that I’ve learnt and really enjoyed doing- so I thought I’d share some of my trade “secrets” with you today 😉 Let’s take a peek behind the scenes and I’ll tell you some of the things I love (and don’t like so much) about working in a library.

#1 Whenever someone takes out a book like A Thousand Splendid Suns, my heart gives a little squeeze and I think “good choice”. I just love seeing great books go out and always think how lucky the person is to get to experience them for the first time!

#2 I love the process of suggesting a book, putting it on display and seeing it go out! The most recent “victim” of this was Ivies by Alexa Donne- it just made me so happy to see that teens are actually taking it out 😊  

#3 Of course, as much as I am inclined to promote books I like, I do (shocker) put books on display that I don’t like because I know other people will like them (I may be biased but I’m not that biased). The blog is where I show my personal taste.

#4 Let’s be real though- a lot of the time books just end up on displays cos they have a pretty cover 😉

#5 I have not read all the books. Ergo I cannot actually help you with all your super specific requests 😂 Especially if it’s horror- I’m gonna struggle to find you a recommendation there! Honestly, I think that the reader is the expert in their own taste, so I’m not keen in pushing people to read things they probably won’t like. And on that note…

#6 Please for the love of god be more specific when you ask for suggestions. Saying you like “anything” is never actually true- and I can tell when you wrinkle your nose at what I then suggest that you didn’t actually mean it.  

#7 As much as I enjoy conversations with readers, sometimes it is hard to be diplomatic! Often they can suggest things to me that I already know I didn’t like… and it’s hard not to tell them so (particularly when they’ve just told me they hate a personal fave). I (hope) I have mastered the art of smiling and nodding (though I doubt it 😂).

#8 Literally every job involving books is dangerous to bookworms. I am tempted by the new books. I am tempted by the returns. I am particularly tempted by the long waiting lists. So yes, even if I never thought I’d read a book, seeing a long queue of people reading it will pique my curiosity. The great thing is that I’ve found many great (and unusual) books this way… the only problem is my book addiction is getting out of hand!!

#9 Weeding (the process of deleting books) is simultaneously the saddest and most interesting jobs. I still haven’t quite been able to come to terms with saying goodbye to tatty, old books- even if it does help to know that this means making way for new books! Still, there are perks! Not only do you come across all kinds of weird and wonderful books that you might never have read (think Crap Days Out), but you get to put on your detective hat and find out what people are actually checking out over the years. Oh, and in my down time, I have read an entire book I wasn’t sure about deleting, before inevitably deciding that it totally made sense no one wanted to read it.

#10 Most of us prefer the bustle of a busy library and do not spend our days shushing people! Times have moved on a little bit 😉

#11 If you don’t have OCD before working in a library, let’s just say there’s a strong chance you will develop it… annnd I’m just gonna leave that statement at that 😂

#12 Annnd this one is just a “me” thing- but I like looking at people’s names. I won’t put any examples here (for obvious reasons) just know that if you have a cool name, I’ve probably clocked it 😉

#13 Picture books are the best. Obviously new books are one of the greatest joys of working in a library- you get to discover what’s new and of course borrow a ridiculous amount of them. What I didn’t expect, though, was the secret delight of finding colourful and playful new picture books in the pile. Because of this, it really opened up my eyes to what a delight picture books really are. Just look at these bad boys:

And that’s all for now! Hope you enjoyed that little insight into the inner-thoughts of library staff!  

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15 thoughts on “Confessions of a Library Assistant

  1. Omygoodness, I struggle not to get frustrated when someone comes up to me and wants a “good” book. I have to ask so many questions. I will say though I massively enjoyed a teen patron coming in and telling me they wanted a pile of books. I think they’ve tried to go to each of us over the past couple years. They want a variety and it was quite enjoyable to give them bunches to try. Also, a patron was doing an art project around a dystopian classic and they had so much fun telling me about it and then we had to find books to give them useful visuals.

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  2. How does one actually work in a library? I’d end up spending all day reading and chase off anyone who comes to talk to me🙂🙂 I love picture books too. Never cease to be amazed by how much I can learn from them while also enjoying the lovely artwork

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  3. Oh I relate to so many of these hehe! I was a volunteer at my local community library a few years ago and I used to come back from my shifts with so, so many books. I loved it! But there were definitely challenges, like you say – my favourite being when people expected me to magically pair them with a book without telling me their reading preferences. I was flattered by their faith in my book choosing skills, but it was frustrating too.

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  4. I worked in libraries for 10 years, you definitely learn a lot about people! And books, LOL. It surprised me how many library assistants I worked with who actually didn’t read books or had little knowledge of what to recommend – first and foremost they are chosen for customer service skills rather than book knowledge.

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  5. Me and my grandson (he’s three) can make a whole day out of going to the library! We both adore the Oi Frog books, which were recommended by the lovely and very patient librarian there.

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  6. Oh how I feel ya- I’m now working in a pet store; the urge to bring ALL THE THINGS home for my sausages is real.. 😅 In two months I spent so much already, ahaha

    A fun post to read, thank you!

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