So you want to be a Librarian?

Before you take on a job as a librarian, first find out if it is what you really want to do.

The majority of jobs require a degree in librarianship and some demand a post-graduate degree in the subject. Sometimes the pay is really good, but at other times not so good. I would say you have to look at each job on its merits. For an example of wages, my job as a school librarian (in 2008) before it was pro-rata’d was around £26,000, I know the public sector school librarian’s pay was around £17,000 – and they are the highly paid ones! As a Library Manager at the Audit Commission I make just shy of £27,000 pro rata’d, if I worked in a university the same job would net me around £35,000 in my ‘catchment area’.

Also look at the job spec.. In the school, there were parts I hated but there were others I really loved as well. Notably I loved the actual librarian side stuff but schools expect more. For example I looked after 40-60 school children on my own for two hours each evening. Not really clever considering I am partially sighted but that is what the school wanted – a part time librarian who doesn’t mind baby sitting.  School Librarians do not have the same authority as a school teacher for example and the children for the most part know it. It is a constant battle of wits with certain segments of the school population with the minimum of help from the Academic staff. But, and that is an extremely big but, working with children is worth it. They brighten your day and make you enjoy life without trying.

Things to love about being a Librarian:
Buying new books – ooh they smell gooood
Cataloguing- mindless but relaxing
The interaction with the good kids – they can be really funny!
Interaction with people.
Having control of your department, from spending to how the library looks.
Getting to read kiddie books
The HOLIDAYS (only working in a school).

Things to hate about being a Librarian:
Interaction with the bad kids
Prep
Having to shout at/tell off kids

The job is firmly weighted in the advantages side of the debate. Only you can say if it would appeal to you but I love being a Librarian and I can’t think of a better job – except a writer :-).

Five Reasons Why I Loved/Hated Being a School Librarian

I have decided to repost some of my old blog posts from the distant past when I was working as a School Librarian. Kids do the funniest things and I really enjoyed working in a school. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Five Reasons Why I Love/Hate Being a School Librarian

 

I’m finding writing this blog quite cathartic, so I thought the next thing was to write about five reasons why I love and hate being a school librarian.

Why I absolutely love it

The children
The children do make it worthwhile. I love the way they think, the enthusiasm and the way they seem to appreciate what I do for them.

The challenge
Every day is a challenge. From the moment you unlock the library to the time you leave, its non-stop. Remember at those job interviews they ask you about prioritization? Well, if you are rubbish at it then you’d have to resign the next day! There’s so much to do the time just flies by. …and don’t get me started on multi-tasking…

The books
Well this was an obvious one – who’d become a librarian if they didn’t like books! There’s always the thrill of spending someone else’s money on books, but most of all I love the smell of them as well. mmmm, Bisto

The creative side
Where can I get started on this one. From the creation of leaflets, posters to computerising the accounts and arranging the furniture. If you want to use your creative side then this is the job to do it!

The quiet!
When break and lunch ends and its just the sixth formers quietly studying I almost think it is heaven…

Why I hate it

The Library as a dumping ground
This means the naughty children who get sent in because the teachers don’t know what else to do with them to being the place equipment gets dumped because we happen to be open all the time. My favourite is laptops and cameras. We only hold them because no-one else wants the responsibility and the reason mentioned before. I love the way teachers come in to book the laptop and expect me to know a) what software is precisely on the thing and b) to know how to fix it if it goes wrong. If I wanted to be an IT bleeding consultant I would have done an IT qualification not a MSc in Library studies! …and then the idiots go an lend it to another teacher without telling me and the others expect me to know where the stuff is at all times. I’m stuck in the library – I can’t go chasing after errant staff members all the time! Grr.

Prep
Looking after 50-60 children on my own after school ends. I’m not trained in childcare and I dread that something bad will happen. Unfortunately it is the one thing I really do not like about my job. It is impossible to control that many children but I am expected to. If I complain then I am told that is what the job entailed and they explained it in the interview. I never dreamed that I would be expected to look after that many though and I’m pretty sure that it would scare a lot of other librarians as well!

Management
I am in charge of the library but still have a line manager, which made sense when I was new to the job. However what is the point of a line manager who does no personnel reviews, doesn’t make decisions or give important information when needed? For example, if something is arranged for the library we don’t always get told. Just the other week a meeting was arranged in the middle of baby-sitting duty (Prep) one night and the first we found out about it was when the canteen staff delivered the drink for it around mid-day. I had to chase my line manager to find out what was happening!

Lack of Communication
Unfortunately the library staff is neither part of the teaching or admin staff. we are classed as other and get forgotten. I have to constantly chase people to find out what is happening. I also have to take every opportunity to collar teachers to find out what they are teaching and what kind of resources they need for the library (They never turn up for meeting – they forget).

The hours
I work part-time as a lot of school librarians do. It is very difficult to get the work done in the time allocated. I know I criticise CILIP a lot but they do acknowledge that a full time librarian is needed in schools which includes working in the holidays. I work approximately 75-80% of term-time. Personal development has to be done in my own time. fair enough I do that anyway – Its just annoying.