Most of my full-time job at present has me working as relief librarian, which means I work at whichever library I am assigned, to cover a staff member absent due to training, meetings, leave etc. I know what shifts I will be doing and where the week before, but that doesn’t stop them from changing at the last minute, as unexpected situations arise. I am doing this three days a week as a maternity leave cover, which at this stage goes to October.
So what do I do as a relief staff member?
A lot of circulation work, as that is where the help is needed most. So that is mostly clearing returns, as we have self-check kiosks which take the load off the loans side. It also involves new memberships, answering queries, clearing the courier run from other libraries, finding titles to fulfill holds on our shelves and also getting all those returns back out where people can find them to borrow.
Being on the tech side of things, the branch staff call on my expertise for any technical concerns they have whilst I’m on hand and if I can’t solve it, I take the pressure off them and sort it out with our IT people. Being one of a few librarians in the smaller branches, I am also called on to do collection work where time, staffing and busyness allow.
What do I think of the work?
I enjoy being around the different branches. I enjoy being appreciated by the branches, both for being me and for what I achieve in the usually short time that I spend at each library. I enjoy learning how the different branches do things and why. From that I enjoy learning new things that may work better than the old things we are doing elsewhere and I get inspiration for improving/changing things on the electronic side, which is what I do on the other two days of the week. I enjoy sharing my electronic discoveries with staff and teaching them how to deal with issues or processes, on the fly.
It is reassuring too, to know that people are the same regardless of which library you work at. You have your problem people, with pretty much identical issues and behaviours. But you also have, in overwhelming numbers, people who regularly use and appreciate their local library and the staff who work within it. When a library user expresses that to you, even if its not your usual branch, it gives you pride – not only in your own work, but the work of the team who is there providing that library service, day in and day out.
I do admit though, that its nice to have two fixed days where I know what I am doing and where I am – I know my hours and they are set. I can make plans around work and I can make plans for the work I want to achieve.
Still, whilst I am in this role, I plan to get as much as I can out of it, whilst giving as much as I can to the teams I work with. A fair exchange I do believe. 🙂