Irregular librarians?

I’ve recently changed jobs. I’m working at a busy public library in the small city where I live, hence I’m familiar to the staff and many patrons already. So far I really enjoy it; public library work is so varied and diverse, and you never know what might come up.

For example, at the end of my first week of training a patron who knows me came to the reference desk, said hello, and told me she had a request but she’d wait for the “regular librarians.” I was at the desk with another member of the staff who as been at the library less than a year. We both assured her we could help, but she just smiled and said she’d wait.

This person didn’t associate us with her previous library questions; we broke her expected pattern of experience, so I guess we seemed “irregular.” Which reminded me that in some ways, libraries are like doctors’ offices. Some patients are satisfied seeing a nurse for a cold, or a physician’s assistant, others insist on the doctor, and not that new young one, but the person they’ve seen for years.

Rest assured, at my library anyway, everyone at the reference desk has been trained to answer questions, to access information on a moment’s notice, to utilize the library’s collection and the dozens of tools at our fingertips in databases and other online tools. We might not always find an answer immediately but we are all capable and ready to give it our best. Experience is wonderful, but good training means even someone new is ready to help, and I imagine it’s that way at your library too. So step right up, and don’t be afraid to ask!

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