Confessions of a Bad Librarian- Part Two

Library Okay, so I am continuing on from my previous post with some more shameful library confessions!

3) I’ve made a huge mistake I am going to have to explain this one a bit. My first library job was in a public library in Dagenham and I worked with some seriously cool dudes. We’re talking male models, ninja super-mums, vampire loving cataloguers, raging drunks, radical teens…you name it. It was fantastic fun and we all went out often and got very merry. This is the job that led me to want to get professionally qualified in librarianship after years and years of admin (hey, at least I can type fast). So, I turn up at uni to start my post grad course and oh, okay, it’s not all about riding around on the shelving trolley, staging full-on battles with under 5s, rolling your eyes at customers who don’t know the alphabet. This is serious stuff. I’m no idiot and I’ve had a pretty reasonable time in education to this point, but I honestly turned up and thought I would know everything and I was so, so wrong. People were talking about things they did at work that I don’t even understand, and I still don’t. Someone posted a link to a completed chartership portfolio just last week and I nearly cried. I couldn’t make head nor tail of a lot of the stuff she’d written and I had that same feeling at uni. I started to panic. Cracks were starting to show on my unflappable confidence in my chosen profession. I was a fraud. And, yes, I still don’t have a clue most of the time what people are banging on about but I have decided I probably don’t need to know that stuff right now. I’m good at what I’m doing now so I probably haven’t made such a huge mistake after all…I hope! What the experience of being on that course taught me most of all was the sheer breadth of, well, stuff that librarians know and how different people have different skills. Okay, I don’t know how to metadata the whatsit in the mainframe but I can forge relationships with teenagers which transcend the functional. And not everyone can do that.

4) I am the WORST at returning library books

It’s pretty obvious I like reading and I have a tendency of going a bit mental when I visit a library. Just so many books! But I have a terrible confession – I am the WORST for returning books on time, so much so I wasn’t allowed to graduate from my undergrad degree for ages because I owed library fines. How shameful is that?!

On my last day at Dagenham Library I had to return all my loans because I was moving ooop North so I packed all the books into a large bag. My (very generous) loan limit there was 45 and I’d totally maxed it out. Why I did this I have no idea, because there wasn’t a hope in hell I was ever going to finish them all. Anyway, the bus was just about to arrive when the bag, when faced with a frankly gargantuan task, bucked under the weight of 45 books and they spilled all out on the street. That was a low point for me.

I also had terrible nightmares when I was younger of being taken to court by Kent Libraries because of the astronomical fees I owed (a fiver is a lot of money when you’re 14) and my mum impounded my library card. I didn’t even attempt to get another one until I was 19. I still have books out on it now…

Recently I have become a reformed character due to the fabulous renewal app provided by Manchester Libraries and I would like to take this opportunity to ensure them that their stock is safe with me!

I do try and be lenient with my students at work – I don’t want them having scary dreams about me chasing them round the school for their overdues. As long as it’s for the love of books.


4 thoughts on “Confessions of a Bad Librarian- Part Two

  1. Haha, I am liking the sound of you here. I find very quiet libraries weird (especially as I end up getting dirty looks for chatting to colleagues). I’m quite good at looking after library books (paranoia) but my 7 year old keeps losing them from the public library and I have to get matey with the librarians.

    I also totally agree about Chartership, I don’t know what half the pksb thing actually means and Google didn’t either!

    I’m glad you’ve seen the light re Harry Potter though, I was sad and sat on the tube 15 years ago pretending not to be reading a kids book 😉 although it was before the hype.


    1. I started filling in the PKSB and I realised I had so many gaps in my knowledge I started getting palpitations. Actually, I have realised that it is so broad that it covers about a million different jobs and that there is no way you could possibly know everything.I am finding it most difficult at the moment to find a mentor..nobody wants me :’-(

      Children are allowed to lose library books, it’s part of their humans rights haha


  2. I’m glad I’m not alone on this! I had palpitations at the PKSB, all those words, and like you, Google didn’t help much either. Most days I feel a bit of a fraud when I’m taking to librarians who’ve been in the post for decades, but so far no-one has noticed!


  3. Of your four confessions, I am guitly of at least three of them (I have read all the Harry Potter books).

    1) Noisy library: my library becomes, almost literally, a playground at break and lunchtimes.

    2) Feeling like a fraud: there are so many aspects to this profession that I don’t know where to start. Like you said, we all have our little niches of expertise. I’ve got to give library induction lessons next month – something I’ve never done before – and don’t really have a clear idea of what I need to do. But I’ll make something up, and it will be OK, and I can make it better next time.

    3) Returning library books: I almost never have LATE library books, but I do have a large stack of them taunting me with their unreadness. When I worked in a public library, I was able to just renew my own loans infinitely, but now that I am no longer there, I am having to be much more aware of what’s due back when. Last week, I returned a book I’d had on loan for a year – it was still unread.


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