A Day In The Life of a Children’s Librarian

By Michelle Magnotta

Recently I was able to observe Meghan, a children’s librarian at my local library. First, she invited me to Baby Time, a story time session in the Program Room for babies aged 16-24 months. I sat in the room waiting for the session to begin. Babies and caretakers were sitting around the room, reading board books, playing with stuffed animals and snapping photos with their smart phones.

Then Meghan got started. She sang “If You’re Happy And You Know It,” “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.”  While she did this, Meghan had a Cabbage Patch Doll on which to demonstrate. She pointed out body parts on the doll, so the caretakers would know to do that on their baby as well.

One book she read to the kids was called Baby Goes Beep.  It was a story about all the sounds babies make. For example, laughing, crying, burping and clapping. Another story was read about the children’s body parts, and the Cabbage Patch Doll was used once again. After that, Meghan sang “Where Is Thumpkin” to teach the name of each finger.

After the Baby Time session, we went upstairs to the Children’s Room for further observation. I saw a map of Westchester and part of Connecticut with books placed in various locations. For example, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was placed on the map in Tarrytown (Sleepy Hollow). Meghan told me that they had chosen books that take place locally and displayed them for people to learn about.

I also saw their book displays. They had a Fall Books section, about the change of season and fall activities. The display next to that was Banned Books, complete with caution tape in front of the shelf. Some of these books included the Harry Potter series and the Diary of Anne Frank.

Since I observed at the beginning of October, Meghan decided to take the Banned Books display down and put up a Halloween one in its place. We pulled books off the shelves having to do with Halloween. It was fun to be able to look up books up the database and find them on the shelves. It was a nice taste of something a reference librarian does.

The shelves were organized by category and book type. There were skinny books, chapter books, fiction, foreign books and graphic novels. I counted five computers and one iPad for patrons’ use.

Then Meghan explained the other jobs of a reference librarian. She said they have to pull books that people have requested off the shelves and scan them onto their accounts, decided which books to keep or not, based on when they last circulated, and keep a record of all the programs for each month for statistics. She showed me how she makes a chart with each program, the time date and place of each one, as well as who ran it.

One term that came to mind after doing the observation is burnout. Burnout is defined as mental exhaustion, not being able to deal with people anymore, loss of energy, and having a negative attitude. This is discussed at length in Marcia Nautatil’s book, The Alienated Librarian. I don’t believe Meghan has any of these symptoms or problems, and is very energetic and happy with her job.

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Michelle Magnotta

Hi! My name is Michelle. I have a BA in Spanish and I'm in the Master's of Library Science program at Pratt.

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