Interview with a Librarian part 1/3

Posted by on Nov 5, 2013
Interview with a Librarian part 1/3

As promised, here is the first part of our interview with a librarian series. Since my cousin, Shannon, works at a library I pounced on her asked her politely to do an interview, and she kindly agreed.

Book Club Flyer

Shannon works at Portales Public Library, and I have to say that it sounds like a fantastic library. One of the things she does there is run the Adult Book Discussion, including designing the flyer to the right.

Anyhow, without further ado, our interview with a librarian!

Q. What’s your favorite part about working in a library?

A. Checking books out for our “regular” patrons. There are a lot of people who come in all the time, every week, sometimes every day, and what I love about that is that you really get to know people well, including what books and authors they read. For example, I know which patrons read James Patterson or John Grisham or Nicholas Sparks, and I know which patrons will request new books two months before they come out and which patrons will wait for the book to be released before they ask to be put on the list. But the very best part of knowing our regular patrons, for me, is getting to know all the families that come in for the children’s programs. There are so many moms and dads that bring their children to the library every week for story time for the younger kids, or for book discussions and movie nights for the older kids and teens. And we also have some families and kids that don’t come to any of the programs, but come in to the library every week or two just to check out books, and I love seeing families come in together, because that means that reading is still important to some families. It’s a way for many of them to spend time together, and you can really tell when that’s the case, as opposed to parents not caring where their children are or what they’re reading, or if they’re reading at all. I also always try really hard to memorize everyone’s names so that I can call each child by their first name, especially the little ones, because it makes them feel special—and it surprises many of them that I remember their names at all, which I find funny. As for our older regular patrons, I very rarely call anyone “Mr.” or “Mrs.” Everyone is on a first name basis, which I think is one of the best benefits of living in a small town; everyone knows each other. And while our patrons are checking out books, whether it’s an adult or a child, I never hesitate to say whether or not I think a book is good. That’s definitely another of my favorite things: recommending good books!

Q. What’s your least favorite part?

A. Withdrawing and throwing away books! We get a lot of book donations, and I am one of two librarians that go through the donations and decide whether or not they are good enough to keep for our collection, or if they can be put in our used bookstore for sale. That isn’t something I ever mind, because then the books are going to good use in some way and can still be read, but sometimes people donate books in terrible condition! I have seen and handled books that are dirty, wrinkled, warped, wet, mildewed and stained with things I can’t even identify, and that drives me nuts! Why would anybody donate books in such crummy condition? Whenever that happens, we take the books out to the dumpster to get rid of immediately, and then we immediately wash our hands afterward! It is just the most disgusting and frustrating thing to me, why people would think we would want books in such condition. But withdrawing books is almost worse! Sometimes books just get so over-used by being read so many times that they are no longer physically acceptable to be re-shelved, and sometimes books get damaged while they are checked out, so they need to be deleted out of the collection and thrown away. Sometimes the books are re-ordered, but sometimes they aren’t, depending on how popular or unpopular they are. And sometimes, there isn’t any room on the shelves for new books, and therefore older, less popular books need to get weeded out to make room, which I have personally done for our Christian Fiction section and our Large Print section. It was difficult for me to decide what to withdraw and what to keep for both sections, because many of the books weren’t necessarily in bad condition; they just weren’t going out at all, and that always makes me a little sad. Whether it is withdrawing a book from the library or throwing away donations, I always find it hard to get rid of a book, because, in my opinion, a tossed book is an unloved book. But sometimes it just has to be done, and you can’t let yourself get sentimental about it, because then you wouldn’t have room for newer books to build up the collection.

Check back tomorrow for part two!

Library Interior2


  1. Beth Hennings
    November 5, 2013

    I really enjoyed this interview. I appreciate librarians who show they’re interested in their patrons. At the last library I frequented, some of the librarians just looked bored, and a couple were just plain unfriendly. This should not be! I found myself scrunching up my nose and cringeing over the description of nasty donated books. We had this same issue during the annual used booksale for our literacy organization. What are people thinking when they donate books?!? Toss them yourselves, people!

  2. Interview with a Librarian Part 2/3 | Lector's Books
    November 6, 2013

    […] for part two out of three for our interview with a librarian (click here for part […]

  3. Interview with a Librarian Part 3/3 | Lector's Books
    November 7, 2013

    […] is the final instalment of our interview with a librarian. Click here for part one and part two. My thanks again to Shannon for taking the time to answer all of my […]