September 07, 2012

Did you ever assume... part 3

I threw out a little teaser last time: "Even if all I did all day at the library was read..."  When people imagine library staff-- although I'm not sure why anyone would do so-- I'm sure they think of a bespectacled individual behind a desk, hardcover in hand.

The truth is that, while I and many staff do quite a bit of reading as part of our jobs, we don't generally read books.  We read book reviews, we read journal articles, we read computer records, and we read emails, but we don't get to read many books.  In fact, speaking only for myself, I have read precisely two books on the job in all of 2012: Border Songs and Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and FalloutFor both of these, the goal, the task I had to complete for work, was to create discussion questions.  Border Songs is our upcoming Everybody Reads title for Fall 2012, and I was on a committee of librarians to create discussion prompts and the reader's guide.  (Information about 2012 Everybody Reads is available online.  [see blog policy] )  Radioactive is one our Book Club in Bag Kits; we collect or create discussion questions to circulate with each kit. And in order to create discussion questions for those, I needed to read them. 

The other exception has been some of our children's programming.  For the baby and toddler story times, our Youth Services Librarian obviously reads picture books.  During the Summer Reading Program, she read chapter books out loud during weekly programs for elementary level children.

We do occasionally get to read books for work, but they generally aren't the kind of thing you'd read for fun.  Not that Library and Information Center Management isn't compelling reading, but it's a bit text-book-y for many.  It was for me.  The Practice of Social Research?  Very useful... and difficult to stay awake through.  These professional development tools are an important part of keeping professional staff well-informed, but these are books accompanied by note-taking; we aren't reading them for plot. 

So do library staff get to read for work?  Absolutely!  Do we get to read books?  Very infrequently!  As relaxing and lovely as it would be, my not-at-the-Information-Desk time does not consist of a comfy chair, my office, soft lighting, and a stack of the many brand-new books from our shelves. Instead, the daily work of many of us usually or can include reading and answering emails, meetings with other staff, meetings with others (patrons, the Board, or the Friends), writing (newsletters, news articles, this blog, to name a few), helping at a service desk, creating programming, reading journals, ordering books, looking at damaged materials, assessing donations, processing materials, cleaning, shelving, organizing, book keeping... There are so many things that need to get done to keep the library running smoothly and to keep the collection clean, fresh, and up-to-date that there is simply no time in the day for reading.

Now, what to address next week... hm.

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