Do You Want To Work In A Public Library?

This is the 700th post that will appear on justinthelibrarian.com. Here’s the first. That post had nothing to do with libraries but this one will. Sometimes this website hits the library topic pretty heavy. Other times I’m here to talk about music and Weezer. Sometimes I just endlessly babble on about something. No matter what the topic is, I am thankful that the people who are reading this are here to listen, share, and learn together with me. That’s the ultimate goal of this website: to share, to listen, and to learn. We can do this together. Heck, we are doing this together. So here’s to 700 posts, almost 10 years, almost 250,000 views, and 450 subscribers. Thanks for following along. You are great.

I took this photo at a library in Katoomba NSW Australia in November 2015. This place was great.

Back when this website began in 2009 some of the big hot topics in libraries were “graphic novels…should they be heavily featured in library collections?” and “library events & programming…is this something libraries want to heavily invest in?”. Time has shown that the answer to both of these questions is yes, but that’s not the reason I bring it up. The reason I bring it up is to show JUST HOW MUCH PUBLIC LIBRARIES HAVE CHANGED since 2009. Here we are in 2019 where libraries are holding graduate ceremonies for their community members who got their GED through the library, big name jobs such as Innovation Lab Coordinator are what libraries are hiring these days, and millenials (aka the future) are coming out to support and stand for their public libraries. Public libraries are doing things that were not even on the agenda in 2009, just ten years ago. We’ll probably look back in 2029 and think the same time. Libraries are in a great place these days. We’re all doing so much for our communities and are pushing ahead to do even more. This is a time to celebrate and also a time to think about the future. This is a great time to ask yourself this question: Do You Want To Work In A Public Library?

Why do I think it is a great time to ask yourself this? Well here goes: if you’re working in a public library now and you’re not enjoying it maybe you shouldn’t be working in a public library. This is a great time to be working in a public library. Sure, there are bumps in the road but overall your community members value the work you do, from the events you plan to the collections you develop and even the little moments where you’re checking out library materials to a community member. Every step of the way in your work at your public library your community values you. Who wouldn’t want to work in a place like this?

If you feel grumpy about your day to day work, if planning and hosting events isn’t your thing, and if you’re just not ready to be everything to every community member that comes through your doors, this public library thing just isn’t for you in 2019. And honestly, it’s just going to continue to be less of a thing for you as public libraries move ahead. The public libraries that I see existing today in 2019 will continue to be improved upon and become even more community focused in the next ten years. Libraries are on the right path these days, one that is fully focused on their communities. Do you want to be on that path?

It’s OK if you do not want to be on the path that public libraries are on. Change is a tough thing to understand and implement into your life. I am pretty good in dealing with change because I’ve accepted that change is always happening, yet at the same time I too grapple with it happening too much or too fast. You’re not wrong, broken, or anything negative if you do not want to be on this path. It’s good to know who you are and what you want out of life, and I think by asking yourself the question “do I want to work in a public library?” you can learn a lot about yourself, grow, and if the need arises move onto something that better suits you. If this happens, all sides benefit: you find a path that suits you at this moment in life, the library is then able to hire someone who has a passion for what the modern public library is about, and the community gets another library staff member who is driven by what the community needs from the library at this point in time.

We’ll end the 700th post on Justin The Librarian with the question we’ve been asking through this whole post: Do You Want To Work In A Public Library? It’s great if you do and it’s great if you don’t. Be honest and be true to the decision. Be honest and be true to yourself. That’s all you need to be in this life.

*I turned off comments on May 8 2019 at 3:20pm because I don’t want to get emails about this all day and night and instead want to focus my attention on my family. If you want to discuss this post and make comments, you know where to find those discussions on social media*

6 comments

  1. From your October 16, 2018 post, You Try Something & The You Learn From It:

    “There was part of me that thought “sure, we can all pitch in and clean the library together and maybe we can save money that way” but in the end what I learned was “you can’t do everything, and if you try to you end up hurting other things in the process.” The other thing that was hurt in this process was every other aspect of the library: our customer service, our materials processing, our events, and everything in between. You can’t do everything without something else getting hurt in the process.”

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