Photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash
This September marks my tenth year as a school library clerk. I love my job and how varied it is. No two days look exactly the same, especially since I split my full-time schedule between two high schools. When people ask what my job entails, I say that it’s a little bit of everything. I get to do nearly all library tasks: circulation, reference, collection development, marketing, shelving, and technology help. In addition to my daily work, I help run a multicultural literature book club and serve on one school’s equity committee. I like being busy when I’m at work, and that’s certainly no problem, especially this year.
Since the past year and a half of school has been virtual, my job was primarily virtual, too. Thankfully, students are allowed back in the library this year, and I think I forgot how busy the days could be.
I thought it would be fun to celebrate my tenth anniversary by sharing what one of my workdays looked like this week. People tend to think of libraries as quiet, calm places, but that’s an old stereotype. Here’s a glimpse of what the library is like for me on an average day.
7:00 a.m. | My workday begins at 7:15, but a crucial part of my day often starts around 7:00, when I stop by Starbucks to pick up my usual mobile order (Venti decaf shaken espresso with sugar-free vanilla, in case you were curious, which you definitely were). When I walk through the door, most of the staff greet me by name, so it’s fair to say I choose Starbucks over my at-home coffee maker most days. Sorry, Nespresso machine.
7:15 a.m. | I walk into the library, flick on a few lights, and turn on the vintage circulation computer that sometimes takes a while to wake up (I relate, so no judgment). I help with laminating at one of my schools, so I usually turn on that machine, too. There’s nothing like the smell of burnt plastic in the morning.
7:30 a.m. | I open up the library doors for students to come in. Sometimes kids are waiting, and sometimes only a couple of students come by before class. I’ll check out a few books and give students the holds they’ve come in to pick up.
8:00 a.m. | I help with laptop distribution, so kids start steadily coming in either needing a computer or needing help with a computer problem. I have several carts full of new books in my workroom that need to be processed, but I’m so busy with laptops that I only finish processing a handful.
10:00 a.m. | The first class of the day comes in for book checkout. After not having students in the library for so long, it’s a delight to have it packed and busy again. I start by giving the students a quick introduction to the space, and then they’re off to find books that look interesting. I have several displays set up and books faced out everywhere, hoping to make it easy for students to find engaging titles.
11:00 a.m. | It’s time for the first lunch of the day. We let kids eat in the library, so it fills up pretty quickly. I check out a few more books during lunch, but most kids are there just to eat and hang out. I heard a student say to a friend, “The library is where all the kids with social anxiety come for lunch.” I’m thrilled to be part of a place where kids feel safe and able to relax.
12:00 p.m. | Second lunch is happening while another class comes in for checkout. It’s a little chaotic, but the students are good listeners and end up finding a lot of books to read.
12:30 p.m. | I finally get a moment to pause and eat my lunch. I usually bring my Kindle to read during my break, but since I’ve been so busy today, I skip the book and play around on my phone instead. I knew I couldn’t focus on a book, which is a tad ironic, considering my job.
1:00 p.m. | The final classes of the day and kids needing help with their laptops fill the rest of my afternoon. I try to process a few books between students at my desk, but I don’t get very far.
2:45 p.m. | School is out, and I’ve waited a few minutes for the halls to clear. Now it’s time to take a book cart to an English teacher whose students had placed a ton of titles on hold. Kids have been so excited to have access to library books again, which makes me happy. Some kids requested one book, while several others requested five. I relate more to the kids who requested five!
3:00 p.m. | I return to the library, where the homework club is in full swing. Though this happens in the library, I’m not in charge of it, so I finally have some time to shelve, get books checked in, and straighten up the shelves for the classes coming in the next day.
3:30 p.m. | I reply to any emails I’ve missed, check the library visit sign-up calendar, and clean up my desk.
3:45 p.m. | I’m finally heading out the door! I turn on a podcast in my car while I drive home, looking forward to a (very long) nap.
That’s what my Wednesday looked like last week! For those of you who are also library workers, what are your workdays like?
One Reply to “A Day in the Life of a High School Library Clerk”
Thank you for sharing this! I’m currently in library school and working at my local public library, but I wish I could shadow at other kinds of libraries too. It’s cool to hear what a ‘normal’ day at a different library is like. Congrats on ten years!
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