ASSOCIATES (2019, November, v. 26, no. 2)


Why I love working for a library

Allison Sloan
Senior Library Associate
Reading Public Library
Reading, MA, USA

I came upon library work as a second (third?) career opportunity when my children were in school all day and I needed someplace to go and something to do and to contribute and be involved. Ironically the library was not even on my list of places to apply for a job, until a friend who worked in the classified department of the local newspaper said they just took a classified ad for an opening for a non-degreed staff person job to work in Circulation. Nice, I thought, it could be a fun place to work for a few years.

Twenty-nine years later (I celebrated my employment anniversary on October 15th), I can’t imagine working anywhere else, and know that with or without a plan, I landed in the right place. There are a few factors that go into that realization. First, I work for a topnotch library, with forward thinking administration and co-workers, both degreed and non-MLS degreed. My co-workers are dedicated and inclusive and team oriented. They truly embrace the tenets of: Right to Read; Non-censorship; Access to Information. All the inspiring philosophies that make the library the heart of a community.

As part of the ALA LSSCP certification (which I admit I never completed), I took the Foundations of Library Services course. At first it seemed silly, since I had on site, direct experience. But it was wonderful to review what I already knew, and learn the basic purpose of librarianship. I rediscovered and freshly discovered reasons why libraries offer extreme customer service and a broad selection of materials and databases and programming. Have I used the word inspiring? Well that is exactly how I felt as I reviewed the deep commitment libraries and library staffers hold, their core values and dedication to assure equal access.

This month I am especially impressed with how our library has opened ways to reach out and make a difference. Our Children’s Department started a “2000 Libros” program, in partnership with the local independent bookstore, to collect children’s books in Spanish/English to donate to children held in immigration detention centers. In consideration of the month of giving thanks, our Reference Department started a project to appreciate a co-worker with a few words on a card delivered anonymously. In the Adult Services and Children’s departments, we are collecting letters to soldiers that will be sent around the world to military personnel serving overseas. This, along with the food pantry and toy collections for holiday gifts, and the tree decorating to fundraise for the school technology fund, are a few examples of how our library invites our patrons to reach out and give back.

If you’re reading this, I suspect you work for a library. Maybe you are nodding your head at some of these reminders of the core values of librarianship. Maybe you are thinking that you took a direct path, or perhaps wound around other career choices before you took a library job. Either way, I hope you are remembering what you love about working for a library.