Posted in Career, Everything Else, Youth Services Librarian

What Makes a Librarian?

As I’ve decided to start blogging about things that go into my job, I should probably start at what exactly my job entails.

So to start: I’m a Youth Services Librarian. This means I handle programs for ages 0-17 as well as collection development for the “kid’s” and “teen” sections of the library. Some libraries, like the Central Branch in my system, have separate Children’s and Teen’s Librarians, but in our branch libraries, one Librarian handles both.

Well, that’s all well and good, but what do librarians actually do? I can separate my job into essentially four categories:

  1. Programs
  2. Collection Development
  3. Reference
  4. Everything Else

People usually associate librarians with Reference and, especially Youth Services Librarians, Programs, but there’s a lot to Collection Development and the category I call “Everything Else,” which includes MEETINGS. I hate meetings.


As a Youth Services Librarian, there is one program that is inescapably associated with my job:

It’s not the only program I do, though. I have two toddler (ages 0-5) programs once a week, one to two school-age (ages 6-11) programs a month, and two to three teen (ages 12-17) programs a month, plus a few more that aren’t “set.” Sometimes I join with the local elementary school and offer school-age programs in conjunction with them, but for the most part, that’s my programming month. That is, until…

Summer Reading

My county’s Summer Reading takes place in June & July and involves… a lot. We hire performers, enlist volunteers, and I still do my two toddler programs once a week. It takes a lot of planning, which will get its own post some time later, I’m sure. Just know, school year planning already involves about 3 programs per week, but summer reading has about one program a day…

Collection Development

For me, my focus on collection development falls under three categories:

1. Adding
Once a month, I select books to be added to the county’s collection. In our county, the ordering areas are spread across the different librarians and we order for all the libraries. Outside of the order, we frequently get donations and I decide if we’re going to offer (to the other branches), add, or book sale them.

2. Moving
Sometimes, I’ll be in an area and think “wow, this might be better served over here, maybe it will check out more if I do that.” Then, I talk to my coworkers about it to think it through, then I talk to my boss about it, and if it makes sense through all those steps, I move the materials. I’ve moved a lot of stuff around since I started, so I’ll probably talk about this more in-depth later.

3. Removing
Wait a second! The library removes books? Yeahbsolutely, my friends. If we didn’t remove books from the shelves, we would run out of space to put new books in and I would have some very. ugly. books. on my shelves. Especially books that are borrowed by kids! Kids are sticky and if you read a book too many times, it tends to fall apart. Such is the life of a book. But once it’s fallen apart, I can’t keep it on the shelf! Sure it looks well-loved but it can make it difficult to see the books on either side of it. What do we do with these books? Offer, book sale, or discard!


That person you see when you come in to the library? Sometimes they are a librarian, but also sometimes they’re not. How to tell the difference? It really doesn’t matter in that context. Whoever is at the front (circulation) desk when you walk in is just as able to help! That person also answers the phone, so we answer a lot of questions at the library.

Sometimes those questions are things like “Do you have solar eclipse glasses?” (NO) and sometimes they’re things like “What’s the phone number for _____?” (Hm let me look that up for you). Sometimes it’s “Can I renew this/put it on hold/do you have it available?” (Maybe, Maybe, Maybe, let me check!) and sometimes it’s “What time do you close?” (8pm Mon-Wed, 6pm Thur-Fri, 2pm Sat).

We also check materials out, help people with the computers, make copies, direct volunteers, help patrons find items in the library, help them find a book they might like, etc. etc. etc. A lot happens at the front desk!

Everything Else

As you may have noticed, we wear many hats at the library. A lot of this is just my experience and I’m still pretty new to this job, but everyone in the library wears many hats. There’s a lot to be done. It’s hard to think of what specifically falls under the umbrella of everything else, but there’s a lot of it.

Well, that just about sums it up, I think. I’m sure I’ve missed some things, but hey. I’m only one easily distracted librarian. Of course, this blog is all my own opinion and experience and cannot be applied unilaterally across librarians. Not even across those who held this exact position in this exact library before me. There are some things one librarian is just more interested in than another librarian.

As of right now, I plan to write about how I select books to add/remove to/from the library, how I do storytime, and there was something else but now I can’t think of it. Hopefully I’ll be true to my idea and actually do these things. I’d also like to get book reviews up and running again, but we’ll see. They were such a chore to do, even though I chose to do them!

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