Librarian: Jack of all trades, master of none. (A life in the day of a librarian/library tech)

Most people are under the impression that all librarians do is stack books, read stories to children, and check books in and out of the library. In most libraries this is not true, mainly because much of that work is done by library assistants. Here at my school I am the only librarian (library technician) in the school (for two libraries senior and elementary) so I do perform all those tasks. Even then, those activities are only a part of my job. Below will follow a typical day in my job as the Library Technician at Ignace School. I will outline activities and time frame from arrival at 8:30am to my departure at 4:00pm. I will mark where I am in the case of senior and elementary library, along with a few other place I also perform duties.

8:30 – 9:00am – In Senior library – Check email – This may seem mundane, but I do get many emails in my work email pertaining to my daily activities. These include requests for library usage, updates to the check in/check out system, school board emails, and tech questions from staff and students. I’m not just checking gmail or hotmail here.

9:00am – 10:00am – In Senior Library – Restack any returned books in Senior Library. I also reload and maintain the 3 printers and computers in the senior library.

10:00am – 10:15am – In Empty classroom – Music at Recess – I run a music at recess program where kids can come in strum on some guitars or play on one of 4 keyboards. This is primarily a supervision role, but gives kids something to do during recess if weather is bad or if they just don`t feel like going outside. Morning recess is for JK to 3rd grade.

10:15am – 11:00am – In Elementary Library – Restack any returned books in Elementary Library. I also reload and maintain the printer and laminate machine in the elementary library.

11:00am – 11:30am – Lunch break

11:30am – 12:30am – In Senior Library – Lunch supervision. I also use this time to repair books, put book covers on new books, enter work ticket for student laptops and troubleshoot any student laptops that may have been reported or turned in to me (before putting in a work ticket for the repair) Check board email if there is times. Depends on the day. I spent one lunch playing Risk with a 10th grade student because he asked if I would.

12:30pm – 1:30pm – In Elementary Library – Library time for various grades. This is flexible throughout the afternoon depending on what day of the week it is. I have 1-3 classes, 3 days a week, each with 30 minutes of library time. I read to grades K-2 and do reader advisory for them all when asked “Where are the drawing or cat books?” What is a good/Do we have any ghost story/ies?” “Whats new in the library?” I also check in and out library books

1:30pm – 1:40pm – Afternoon break (If there is time for such non-sense)

1:45pm – 1:55pm – In Empty classroom – Music at Recess – I run a music at recess program this one is for grade 4-8. Kids can come in strum on some guitars or play on one of 4 keyboards. This is primarily a supervision role, but gives kids something to do during recess if weather is bad or if they just don`t feel like going outside.

1:55pm – 2:00pm – In main office – I Check my cubby hole/Mailbox in the office for newsletters, fixed laptops, new book orders or anything else that may have come in for me. Also use the office for printing.scanning, etc if needed.

2:00pm – 3:30pm – Elementary Library – Re-shelving books in Elementary Library, doing administrative stuff. I use the end of the day to get other stuff done. In the first few weeks it was weeding and reorganizing the library (which both are ongoing projects). I also use the time to re-check my email again and do any activity prep for kids. On Thursdays I run a young readers program (Bookworm club) for grade 2-3. It basically is a half hour for them to read and them come together and share their thoughts on the book (an extra library/reading time. I go around and help anyone who needs help with their reading comprehension skills.

3:30pm – 4:00pm – In the Senior Library – Administrative stuff/End of day stuff – I use this final half hour to check my email (if I havn’t had time in the previous block). Go through final check of any new tech/laptop problems that may have come up and finish any other  stuff that may have come into my office or I did not complete earlier in the day.

This is just a sample of stuff that I do. I also control inventory for the AV room in the Senior Library. The av room includes: TV’s, VCR’s, VHS, DVD player, DVD’s, Cameras, E-readers, Overhead projectors, Teacher resource binders and Family studies electronic babies. I am more than just a giver and taker of books. I am the first line tech guy, library administrator, program planner, supervisor, literacy teacher, and yes….a book shelver.

One thought on “Librarian: Jack of all trades, master of none. (A life in the day of a librarian/library tech)

  1. Em

    Hi Scott,
    It was your anti violence post that caught my eye, but this that I am moved to respond too.

    You have a lot of support in your field for your complaint. There is usually little understanding by users, and particularly school employers, about what it takes to run a library well. That is why it takes a minimum of 2 years of Intensive training to qualify.

    I am a diploma holding Library Technician. In my experience of running a library supporting 2 schools might I add the following duties to the above:

    Cataloging and acquisitions of books.
    Upkeep if data, migration and download of data, and configuration maintenance of database. Few people comprehend that the core function of a library technician is managing the items, so the knowledge or functionality they hold is accessible to people. This management is the core purpose of a library.

    Class visits occurred almost daily in my library. This entails supervision when the teacher goes off for desperately needed “prep”, and brings to mind the following.

    You might also add promotion and literacy, for example, Internet literacy: teaching key tricks and critical thinking skills to define what is credible and what is not.

    Finally, I would add research and retrieval skills to the mix. What good is a vast storage locker if knowledge if the seekers do not question and seek, or know how to define their question.(something I depressingly see far too often).

    Oh yes, let’s not forget library website development, and content maintenance. My favorite is embedding You Tube promos of a book release!

    May I add exhaustion to the list?

    One learns, after awhile, that although it irks to no end, we simply have to include describing, educating and demonstrating our worth to others subtly on a daily basis. About 20% of those we meet will either have comprehension or lucidity. The other 80% may have an inkling or not, and you can be assured that next to none will care for the matter as do those concerned in the field.

    C’est la vie.
    We do it because we care. Knowledge, it’s acquisition, comprehension and Good application, makes for a safer, more social and respectful world – the moral and good application being key. And that last aspect is only found within.

    M. A. Selbee


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