While librarians seem to be immersed in the world of books, they actually have a lengthy job description that might surprise patrons. Constantly on their feet and bustling about, they have their pulse on the library. Here are five surprising duties you’ll find librarians performing.
1. Assisting Patrons in Unique Ways
There are many ways in which librarians assist their patrons. People visiting the library to use computers often have very limited knowledge of computer technology or the Internet. Librarians will often find themselves setting up email accounts on behalf of patrons, helping them reset forgotten passwords, showing them which sites to use for research, and a number of other Internet-related questions.
2. Lending Things You Wouldn’t Expect
Libraries often stock more than books on their lending shelves. Many libraries keep items on hand that will be helpful to community members who can’t afford these items themselves.
One library in Ann Arbor Michigan lends science equipment for children working on projects or participating in science fairs. They check out everything from oscilloscopes to microscopes, and soon will have life-sized models human skeletons. This same library also checks out energy meters so that residents can go home and check the energy usage of their major appliances.
Many libraries around the United States have started passing out packets of heirloom herb, vegetable, and flower seeds. The goal is for residents to go home and plant the seeds, harvest the plants, and then bring back new seeds for others to use. This is a sustainable project that has the potential to benefit the entire community.
3. Community Classes and Support Services
Most public libraries offer classes which are often free and benefit community members. Librarians teach classes on how to use computer software, how to file taxes, how to search for jobs online, and how to be an informed voter. Libraries are the perfect location for literacy support. Small businesses also gain from the many resources available at the local library. They can learn about their demographics and directly reach the community.
4. Organizing and Promoting Events
Librarians also do quite a bit of event planning and marketing. There are a number of events and activities sponsored by local libraries that must be planned, advertised, and executed. Librarians are responsible for organizing events such as book groups, story time, after school homework classes, summer reading challenges, book festivals, and visiting author talks.
5. Dealing with Unusual Issues
Because the library is open to the public, librarians often deal with unusual or difficult people and situations. Some of the more common issues include managing unruly children during the after school hours, dealing sensitively with those who have mental disabilities or mental health issues, and assisting non-English speakers. Libraries provide a safe environment for children and the elderly with the care provided by librarians.
Some of the more bizarre situations reported by librarians include abandoned turtles, patrons ironing clothes…and even people bathing in the bathrooms (including clipping their toenails and shaving with an electric razor).
As you can see, the job of a librarian often requires a surprising amount of flexibility, tact, and ingenuity. Here’s to all of the faithful librarians out there who keep our communities thriving with the multitude of services they provide.