A day in the life : Substitute Librarian III, Hilo Public Library

Chezlani Casar is a 2017 UH Manoa and Hack Library School alumni. She is currently a “freelance librarian,” meaning that she subs in the public system when possible and spends the rest of her time ghostwriting and looking for new jobs. She recently completed a 7-month contract position which involved unearthing and resuscitating an abandoned departmental research library at the County of Hawaii’s Department of Research and Development. When a little more space and perspective has been gained, she will consider telling that story.

Hilo is the regional library for Hawaii Island. It is also the busiest in the state of Hawaii, both in terms of circulation and patronage. Many of our patrons come in every day, including kids who come in after school. I worked there for two weeks as a Substitute Librarian III, an entry-level librarian position. I was in charge of staffing the YA desk.

8:15: Arrive at work. Circ staff already busy as usual, packing up the day’s deliveries. One librarian works on figuring out how to use the new copiers, delivered the day before.

8:30: Receive YA pull list, hunt for a Star Wars graphic novel. I have no idea how GNs are organized here, nor does the head of Youth Services. Hopefully the teens do.

9:00: Pull previously-new books (prior to December) off YA new books shelf. Set aside too many to take home for personal reading. Quite a few patrons already milling around outside, probably under the mistaken impression that we open at nine. Library opens one hour later on Fridays to give staff time to catch up on work. Staff meets every other Friday, which is not today.

9:30: Remove red dots from previously-new books. This takes longer than I’d like to think. Shelve previously-new books, as well as yesterday afternoon’s returns.

10: Library opens. First patron in the YA room heads straight to the computer, as he does every day. Spend more time than I’d like to trying to figure out whether he’s secretly eating.

11: Finally finish shelving previously-new books and yesterday’s returns. Takes way longer than I expect. I am easily distracted by books (aren’t we all?), as well as with inspecting the popularity of my various favorites. Time to start linking new-new books so I can put them on the shelf. Try hard not to mess up and accidentally delete any records from other branches (like I did last time!)

11:20 : Father and daughter leave YA room, father bearing an ARMLOAD of his daughter’s books. Balm for a librarian’s soul.

12:10 : Finish linking and shelving new books. New books shelf looks kind of empty since I just removed way more than I replaced. Seems a large percentage of the current new books are Star Wars novels. I suppose that can’t be helped.

12:15 : Look for and collect novels in verse for a national poetry month display. Wonder if this display will persuade anyone to read them, because they never seem to be all that popular. Put back all the women’s history month books.

1:00 : Lunch time!

1:45 : Back on desk, start working on poetry display. Put out novels in verse. Look up short poems for “poem in my pocket” passive program. Write William Carlos Williams’ “This Is Just To Say” and Langston Hughes’ “Harlem” on old borrower cards with accompanying colorful envelopes.

2:30 : The after-school crowd arrives, soaking wet from the thunderstorm outside. Teen zone fills up with wet kids reading manga.

3:15 : Finish making poetry display. Catch one kid eating sneakily, and two more playing tag. Keeping an eagle eye.

3:20 : Put away cart full of returns. One eye on the teens.

3:45 : A riot of giggles and a loud crash causes me to play mom yet again. And not so much the nice mom who makes you grilled cheese.

4:00 : Things get quiet. I get tired. Rain falls in the courtyard. Tables and computers are pretty full in here.

4:15 : Check out my books for the day (pile on the desk at home is dangerously approaching mid-semester YA class proportions!) Today’s haul:

  • The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Emily Danforth
  • Landscape With Invisible Hand, M.T. Anderson
  • Jaya & Rasa: A Love Story, Sonia Patel

4:20 : Provide my (surprisingly) first computer assistance of the day (how to move the cursor around in the text of an email).

4:30 : Marvel at the size differences between 7th grade boys and girls, and the comic effect this has when they are boyfriend and girlfriend.

4:45 : Help a teen call his mom for a ride.

4:55 : Turn off half the lights in hopes the patrons will realize it’s time to clear out.

5:00 : Head home!

Categories: Day in the Life

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1 reply

  1. Thank you. I am an aspiring librarian currently studying for my MLIS. This post was very helpful with specifics on what a librarian does at work. Seems very fun.


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