Home > Jobs, Real Life > Job: Library Page

Job: Library Page

Over a year ago, early in 2006, the idea was, shall we say, proposed to me that I should get a job. Now, initially I was reluctant. In my words at the time, I wanted to stay a kid. Getting a job would mean more responsibility, less free time, and no perceivable (at the time) benefit. So I sort of waffled on the whole thing, shuffling from application to application, never really feeling that I actually wanted to get hired. Much to my pleasure, being only sixteen years of age at the time, I wasn’t eminently hireable.

Then things changed when my mother mentioned in late February that Eva Perry Regional Library was looking to hire Library Pages and that she picked up an application for me. Now there’s a thought. Working in a library. How bad can that be? Now, normally this is where the spooky music plays and you hear about how, after getting the job, I lost three toes and a chunk of my left ear in a printer accident trying to print out a hold slip for a cursed book.

Actually, what happened was much less dramatic. After my application simmered for a week or so in their hands, I got a call asking for an interview for the job. I was, naturally, worried; in retrospect, I was rather calm about the whole affair. I mean, as intimidating as job interviews can be, I probably wasn’t as scared as I should have been given that it was my first time around on this particular carousel.

The whole thing was relatively simple. I met with two nice ladies who worked at the library and they asked regular questions like why I wanted to work at the library. But then there was the written examination. This totally threw me for a loop. It was a list at least 100 items long of pairs of strings of text. The task set was to, in a timed environment, tell which ones were alike and which ones weren’t. Despite feverish working, convinced I’d run out of time, I actually had time to get through the darn thing and read back through it one and half times before the nice ladies came back to see how I’d done. (I don’t know how well I ended up doing, but it’s hard to imagine it wasn’t “well”.)

A phone call a few days later meant that I was hired, and working the best hours I could have wished for. 1pm until 5pm, Saturday and Sunday, every other weekend. That worked out to a grand total of four hours a week. This was, to me, the master stroke. I had a job to satisfy my mother, but it didn’t actually require me to do that much total work. And on top of all that, the work wasn’t really that hard. The whole building was air-conditioned, and I had rather motherly ladies as my boss. If I had a particularly rough assignment for the day, I would usually be reminded to take a break and get something to eat to keep my strength up.

The actual work did have something of a learning curve, however, because it’s algorithmic, repetitive work. Generally performing the same task over and over, such as putting a cart full of books on the shelf, and I had to get an efficient algorithm in my mind worked out. That came in due time. Other things that I acquired after a few weekends of work were a general knowledge of the layout of the Adult Non-Fiction section where I did all my shelving, and stronger leg muscles. As crouching was the best way to get to the lower shelves, and this had to be done quite often, I ended up building muscles that hadn’t been activated since 8th grade PE class. I was rather sore that first weekend.

And here I am, over a full year later, preparing to say goodbye to this job. I’m scheduled to work next weekend, 14 and 15 April, and Eva Perry is temporarily closing for renovations on 25 April. Since the renovations are planned to take six weeks, by the time they re-open, I’ll hopefully be gainfully employed by SAS in one of the many summer positions I’ve applied for there. If that does fall through, I might end up re-upping, but I sincerely hope I won’t have to.

In all my time at Eva, I’ve gained a lot. I’ve certainly learned a lot. One of the first things I ended up discovering is that you have a choice: either you can hate your job and act like you’re miserable and would rather be at home, and you will be. You’ll also hate every minute you spend working. Or you can do your best to like and enjoy your job, and everything will go down a lot smoother. I’ve also learned that, by pure volume of books, the residents of Wake County are more interested in cooking ( 741.5-741.9) than all of the sciences and maths combined (500-599). I’ve overheard and learned a bit of Spanish from the lady that tutors high schoolers every Sunday at Eva. But most of all, I’ve learned that most non-fiction books aren’t nearly as interesting as their dust jackets make them seem.

Categories: Jobs, Real Life
  1. April 9, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    If all goes well and you land a summer job at SAS, I hope you’ll write about that too. In the meantime, why don’t you tell us about the other jobs you’ve had during the last year: your freelance writing gig and the internship at RLT?

  2. hobershort
    April 9, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    Already in the pipline. As a friend of mine would say, “Easy on the jets there, turbo.”


  3. Greg Hunt
    April 10, 2007 at 9:19 pm

    I think your observations about liking or not liking your job to be pretty insightful. That’s the way a lot of life is as well. You can choose to be happy or unhappy about a lot of what happens. Your final comment on the value of most of the non-fiction books you were handling made me laugh out loud.

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