Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Public Library Hierarchy...

Circ was short-staffed last week and they had to ask Info for help.  Because I was the most recent one to work on circ, I was chosen to work 3 hours on the circ desk.  It reminded me of when I swore off circ work after joining the info side.  In fact, I did the same thing when I moved from Page to Circ.

It all relates to the hierarchy of the public library.  From my experience, I believe that there is a direct relationship between the amount of work done to one's position in the library pyramid.  The higher you are, the less work you do.

Pages do a lot of work, if they weren't around I'm pretty sure the library would grind to a halt.  The circ desk would be overrun with returns and info wouldn't be able to find anything.

The workload at circ can be pretty overwhelming when you consider that most libraries let patrons borrow 30+ items on each card.  It is no fun when you get a whole family with 5 different cards with 30 items on each card.  But even with that, it is a lot better than pushing a cart around and shelving books from the minute you walk in the library to the minute you leave.

The Info desk is easy compared to circ, I don't have to deal with patrons who complain their way out of the 60 cents in late fees on their account.  Yes, I know the info desk does have to deal with patrons who are too loud, parents who let their feral children run amok, "issues" with the public restroom, and help non-tech patrons with the internet, but I would take info over circ any day.

Branch management is above circ and info regardless of whether its info or circ management, they both do much less than their non-management counterparts.  How can someone who works a full 8 hour shift not work the desk once??  What are they so busy doing in their offices?

Library administration and the library director are so far removed from any of their "coworkers" who work in the branches.  Which makes it quite ironic in that the majority of decisions related to branches are made by admin: procedures, snow closures, even the temperature of the branches, etc.  During one hot summer day at work, I had a patron ask if the A/C was broken.  I replied that Admin has the control over the thermostat and that they raised it because of the budget cuts.  The patron made a quip about how comfy Admin must have it in "their ivory tower," and that is now how I describe library admin's offices.

Will my public library journey end up with me working in the ivory tower, who knows.  It is the equivalent of starting out in the mail room and working your way up to the top floor.


  1. I'm pretty sure our Director does more work than the rest of us. Also our Pages in Adult Reference suck and don't really do much.

  2. Man, I wish our Director did enough work to justify their salary, it's re-dick.

    All of the slacker pages I have ever known were always high schoolers. Unfortunately, their lasting memory has now biased this one page manager's hiring process so every young person is automatically disqualified, kind of sucks.

  3. How much does information get paid compared to entry-level pages?

    1. Hey ZOON,
      It's been a couple of years since I worked as a page, but I believe pages start out at $10/hour, info starts at $22/hour, I believe.

  4. Really. Librarians who get paid $50K a year are complaining about minimum-wage pages who's jobs consist of constantly checking the book-shelves from the time they come in from the time to leave and is the only thing they are basically allowed to do, least they upset the all-mighty hierarchy? Bookshelves that host 1,000+ minimum of materials and articles, navigating around public and having to deal/interact to the public to some degree while all a librarian has to do is sit down at a desk, smile, and deal with a few over-the-phone and face-to-face interactions? Put a few covers on some books? Reading some books on a day-trip to a school or other setting? Talk to the Director and drink kool-aid? If anything, the librarians are the ones who have it the easiest in their own ivory-tower subsidies and are over-paid customer service reps that have little to talk about others. Anything that a librarian has done is something that a customer-service rep at retail has done and so much more. There is little to no room for complaints here. Librarians have it easy, easy to the point that it's become ridiculous. You don't want to work really, out of the few other problems too. You are a lazy group, in a lazy job-position and you don't want to get off your butts and do your jobs have of the time, especially when it comes to the use of patrons mis-using the internet to look at pornography. Congrats. Comparing your jobs with other jobs that deal with real use of skill and not just a MLS degree title makes yours a complete joke. There are people out there that work REAL jobs, not phony ones that happen to have a degree in them where all you do is sit on your rumps while soaking up tax-payer money.

    1. Oh wow, I haven't been checking on my blog in awhile but ANON 1, you seem pretty upset. What's your deal? Got a scar from a paper cut from a card catalog as a kid or something?

      I wish you would have given your definition of a "REAL job." Go read a book you angry, angry person.

      @ ANON2 ha-ha