Monday, February 01, 2010

24: A Day in a Librarian's Life: This takes place from 12:01 am to 2:00 pm

As many of you know, I am, in fact, a real-life professional Booktender. That's a librarian to you. But you may call me Booktender. I'm not picky.

OK, this may not be exactly an ordinary day as:

1. My mother is here for her annual visit and, unlike so many people, I genuinely enjoy having her for a month.
  1. 2. We were just given the proposed budget cuts for the entire city and it's not just heart-breaking, it's verging on devastating. I have 22 years seniority. There are only half a dozen people who have been here longer than I. I'm ok.
74.5 FTE co-workers are likely to lose their jobs. We will be closing 6 out of 10 buildings. If I understand correctly, our budget will be about the size it was in 1987 - the year I started.

I am, however, heartened by remembering the words of Jack Nicholson in his groud-breaking performance in Mars Attacks. We've still got 3 more buildings open than we did when I came here "and that ain't bad."

But enough of the doom and gloom. Let's give you a snapshot of a day in the life of a librarian working smack in the middle of a very urban area in a very large city in a very hot and dusty place in the US.

Before last year's cuts, I worked 9-6 each day except for my regular Monday 12-9 shift. Occasionally an extra 12-9 shift was thrown in for good measure. Those days are totally gone!

Work shifts actually begin and end at a quarter after the hour to allow for the laborious process of kicking all the citizens out at close. Today's work day is 10-7. We're open to the public at 11:00. Currently, my work schedule is like this: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 10-7. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, 8-5. Yes, it's brutal and I don't see how my co-workers with family nearby or a social life do it. C'mon, peeps, let's just split the difference and make my work day 9-6 every day.

I work 40 hrs/wk, so obviously, I am not here every day. In my boss's mind, there is some sort of pattern to which weeks I have Sat-Sun off, which are Fri and Sun. off, and which weeks I have Fri-Sat off. I can't figure it out.

Oh, the excitement I feel when a schedule is posted! Which days do I have off? Do I have any regular weekends? The whole department behaves like pacing tigers until the bright, shiny day when the 8 week schedule is posted.

Having varying work hours is something I've done since I came here. You'd think I'd be used to it. But no, it still throws me and I am not unknown for showing up for work on the wrong day. What larks! On the up side, the exhaustion and frustration didn't really hit until about 18 months ago.

My years with the city plus my age make me elegible for retirement in September 2013. I have never regretted my decision to move here from Iowa. I set my feet to the path and where it has led has been right for me. Or left, as the situation demands.

12:01 am-8:45 am
Sleep, more or less

I am not a morning person. Never have been. I was born in the morning and promptly took a nap. This rattled the good doctors and probably my folks. They stuck me in the bun-warmer for a little while and I snapped right out of it about 1 pm. As you can see, I have a history of completely ignoring mornings.

This morning, my mother the early-bird got confused about my schedule and frantically awakened me at 7:30 am. Oops, apologies, accidentally turn off my alarm clock. Mother backs off so, when 8:30 rolls around I am fortunate to awake on my own.
  • Stand stupefied in the shower

  • Get dressed except for my shirt. I know I put it neatly folded on the shelf. It's not there. Rummage some more. Not there. Check in clothes dryer. Not there. One last time. Oh. It was right there were it was supposed to be. Obviously gremlins are at work here

  • Makeup, brush teeth, feed cat, pet cat, Hi Mom, dry hair, grab different right and left shoes, grab matching shoes, grab Ensure, Bye Mom

  • Leave 10 minutes late

10:25 am

Not surprisingly, I arrive 10 minutes late. Fortunately no one notices, leaving me 5 minutes before my first activity of the day

10:30 -10:59 am

Attend department mini-meeting. Budget cuts suck. No we don't know which positions in what departments are being eliminated. Have to have city budget hearings in Feb. to finalize the plan and see who takes a retirement buyout. You'll know in March if you're screwed. Yes, this sucks.

11:00 am

  • Read email and begin gathering numbers for a report. Our Fiction DVD and Spanish DVD bins are usually filled to the brim. For the past few weeks, they have been nearly empty as the grave on Easter Morning.

  • Find counts of the following as of midnight last night: Items actually owned by my agency, items currently wandering around the library system for holds, etc., Items that should, theoretically, be in the building and available for our customers.

  • Realize that a ton of these think they are Fiction or Spanish DVDs, but have call numbers that indicate Teen, Children's, Non-Fiction, or the mysterious W ha2 !qdi: 5.

  • Add those to the mess

  • Nearly finish when...
11:55 am

  • Save report.

  • Rush up to the 5th floor for 2 glorious hours at the reference desk. This is the place where all adult-level non-fiction books are kept. No longer the "action-central" it was years ago. Dude, it's all on the internet.
12:00-2:00 pm


  • Dog books?
  • Bathroom?
  • GED study guide
  • Water fountain?
  • Calligraphy
  • Bathroom?
  • Water Fountain?
  • Calvin and Hobbes?
  • Can you come over and help me find this on the shelf?
  • Remark: that baby sure was crying for a long time
  • GED study guide?
  • Do I check out books on this floor or do I have to go downstairs where the checkout desk is right beside the exit?
  • Where can I buy a soda?
  • Time?
  • Welding and Construction
  • Bathroom?
  • Blacksmithing
  • Bathroom?
  • ASVAP study guide
    I'm a good Christian. I accidentally turned down a page in the book. Sorry
  • Screenwriting for television?
  • Water fountain?
  • Bathroom?
  • East men's room has "stuff" all over the floor, I think you'd better call someone
  • Another bathroom?
  • Study rooms this floor?
  • Can you come over and help me find this on the shelf?
  • Today's date?
  • Water Fountain
  • Cyclopaedia of American Biography?


2:00 pm
Relief is here! Shift change!

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