This is how we do it…. but what do we do?

What do librarians do all day?  This is the image that may come to mind to the average reader:

At left is the image most female librarians would like the public to conjure up when they mention librarians. The truth is most likely an interesting combination of these three images. These days you won’t find librarians climbing ladders to reach books because it’s dangerous and the Internet and ebooks have greatly reduced the number of books being kept on library shelves. Likewise you won’t find librarians running around in high heels, shorts, and low-cut blouses because, well, it would probably be very uncomfortable while also being highly unprofessional.  There is one similarity in all of the images. The librarian is reading a book. Many people believe that librarians have the privilege of being paid to read books all day.  Unfortunately, it’s just not true.
We invite authors to visit our library.  For example, Paula DeBoard, the author of The Mourning Hours will be visiting our library on Monday, April 14th at 6pm to talk about her book. The book is set in rural Manitowoc County which makes the reading experience interesting for locals as they attempt to match fictional locations with real ones.  The story itself is a mix of heartbreaking tragedy and family resilience that resonates with the reader long after you’ve finished the book.  The tone of the book is similar to Wingshooters or Whistling in the Dark.   Librarians also help readers by recommending books and authors similar to ones they’ve enjoyed. We choose books for library-sponsored book discussions and after we’ve used them, make them into book discussion kits with questions that local book groups can check out for themselves.
We buy books, movies, and music that our patrons want.  We are notin the business of telling people that they haven’t lived unless they’ve read classics like Pride and Prejudice or Of Mice and Men.  We are in the business of making classic titles available to readers all while in the process of reading book reviews and purchasing the latest hot titles. We don’t judge.  If you want something similar to 50 Shades of Grey, we’ll point you in the direction of Sylvia Day or Maya Banks.
We have summer reading programs for children and adults.  Yes, even though it doesn’t feel like summer outside, the librarians are all hard at work planning fun activities and inviting presenters to the summer programs. Once summer is planned, we start working on fall activities and presenters, usually around May.

Lego reproduction of librarian in chicken costume for story time.

Now, take all of these various duties and activities (which are only a few of the many things we do) and throw children into the mix.  A children’s librarian gets to play with toys and design creative crafts to go with story time. Sometimes they’ll even dress up in a costume for story time.  They’ll read several picture books in one sitting in order to find the perfect ones for story time or a school visit.
Librarians reading all day among the bookshelves or running around telling everyone to be quiet is an urban myth.  Libraries are fun places full of activities and events for the entire family.  We show movies for a variety of audiences and help people with their electronic devices.  We locate information.  We download books. We hardly ever get to read when we’re at work….but we try to sneak in a chapter or two when we can.
Visit your local library and help us celebrate National Library Week April 13th-19th in 2014.