Posted in Lessons Learned

They Don’t Teach You That in Library School

Lately, the subject around the “watercooler” here has been things that you just don’t know to expect when you enter the world of librarianship.  I took the foundation courses – collection development, reference, cataloging, library management – and those certainly prepared me for the general role I assumed as a reference librarian.  But there are so many other things that occur in this job that I never really imagined when I chose this path.

I’ve written previously, for instance, about my adventures with rodent removal on weekend reference.  And then there are the purchasing decisions outside of collection development, such as whether to replace appliances that keep getting broken or stolen, having to weigh the value against the cost.  I never would have thought that part of my job would pretty much be salesmanship – whether I’m advocating to my colleagues for a product I think we should buy with our limited budget or to the faculty for the services I can provide them as the Educational Technology Librarian.  And then there are all the facility problems that crop up – shoving trashcans under cascading leaks in the library entryway, investigating door alarms that keep going off, and dealing with power outages on the weekends when no one is around to help.  Yes – as it turns out, librarians wear many hats.

Now am I saying that my education was inadequate?  No.  I think these sorts of lessons crop up in any job, and there’s not really a way to prepare for them.  I have certainly found, since day one, that no two days at a library are ever the same – and that’s one of the things I love about working here.  You never know who’s going to come through the doors, and you never know what they’re going to ask.  It keeps life interesting.  I’m not sure there is a class that can teach you common sense or to think on your feet.  It’s life.  It’s random.  It’s interesting.  It’s a library.


I am the Assistant Director for Public Services at Indiana University's Maurer School of Law. My research interests include exploring how emerging and existing technologies can be used to enhance library services and legal education as well as how to address knowledge gaps and meet the educational expectations of today's law students.

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