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The Life and Day of a Library Assistant
Transcript of The Life and Day of a Library Assistant
What I learned
Responsibilities and Duties
Behind the Scenes
Hi, my name is Lilian Ng and this is all about my Job Shadow experience.
Name: Anne Ng
Occupation: Library Assistant/ Public Service Assistant
Company Name: Vancouver Public Library
Work Place: Vancouver Central Library
After books are manually checked in by the patrons, they move down the conveyor belt to the lower floor.
After being checked in, the machine sorts the books into bins which have been labeled different categories such as teen fiction, arts, business, DVDS, and video games.
Books that come down from the left conveyor belt are books that have already been manually checked in by staff or patrons themselves.
Books from the drop box come down the right conveyor belt into a bin below where they are then manually checked in by staff.
The Vancouver Public Library is the second largest public library system in Canada with a growing collection of 2.8 million items and nearly 9 million items are borrowed annually. Among the 22 branches, the Central Branch is the administration center acting as the heart of this complex network.
But what the public doesn't see is the hard working staff behind this smoothly operating system. However, I have had the privilege to explore the rooms and levels of the central library that is not usually seen by the public.
Books that have been generously donated by the public are packed away in these boxes to be sold in the Vancouver Public Library's book sale held about 3 to 4 times a year. The money made goes back into the budget to buy new items for the library.
New Books !
New items from books to video games are constantly being purchased to replace old ones or just to keep the library's collection up to date. Multiple copies of the same item are bought and then they go through a long process before go into the public. All this is done only in the central library.
This is where books are prepared to be circulated which includes labeling, laminating, and making sure the packaging of the item is suited for library.
The books are placed into these totes before they are shipped to other libraries.
More BOOKS !
Just as items are coming in, items are also being cycled out of the central library. These in includes items that need to be returned back to their original branch or items that have been requested from the central library by other branches. Items needed to be shipped out are placed in this room where the maintenance staff will pack them up and transport them to the different branches.
-register library cards
-check in/out books
-resolve issues and complaints
-verifying patrons information (e.g. address, e-mail and PIN number)
- help patrons pay any fines
-all the checked-in items on hold are rolled up to the Hold Pick Up Desk where the staff will put it on the self for the patrons to pick up
-however, all DVDS and video games on hold are under the staff supervision behind this desk where they will help you
Got A Burning Question?
This is where calls from the public are answered or redirected to another department if required.
These shelves are temporary storage for mostly media material such as DVDs as well as some multilingual items.
Come along as I give you an exclusive tour of the ins and outs of this system.
These are the incoming deliveries from other branches that contain either requested items or books that belong in the central branch that have been returned at another library branch.
Incoming books from the drop box and deliveries from other libraries are manually checked in by the staff.
The machine only does the basic sorting into the bins. The fine sorting is left to the staff.
As the bins get full, the staff empties out the material on to the top shelf where they will then be fine sorted onto the carts by numerical or alphabetical order depending on the type of material. This process requires one to be focused at all times and extremely detailed orientated as they need to be aware for any mistakes the machine might have made.
After the carts are full, they are rolled out into this room where they will eventually get shelved back into the public.
If any items on request have been checked in, the library assistants will scanned the items through this computer where a receipt will print out with the patron's name on it. After, if will be put on to a cart and rolled upstairs ready for the patron to pick up.
Even with the help of these large machines, the job of a library assistance is no easy job as there is a constant never ending list of duties.
A library assistance also works in the acquisition department or in other words, the purchasing department. It is here, items such as books, e-books, magazines, and movies are ordered and shipments are handled. Purchases made cannot go over the budget nor can they be under budget because then the government will lower their funds.
Holds Pick Up Desk
Things I like about this career
Things I disliked about this career
-the usage of organizational skills and being detailed oriented
-job offers constant challenges that will exercise and improve many skills such as problem solving and communication
-being able to help the public
-easy repetitive tasks such as checking in book
-rotating shifts to keep work interesting
Library assistants are also exposed to the public as they often work in shifts at either the service desk or hold pick up desk. Here is what they do at each desk:
Did you know...
Once you exceed the limited of $10.00 fines
on you library card, you are not able to borrow
any books until you how lowered the fines to under $10.00.
Library assitances follows a schedule of rotating shifts to maximize productivity and efficiency. Working the same job throughout the day is pretty strenuous therefore, the change in environment keeps the staff alert.
-tasks can get repetitive and tedious
-jobs such as moving carts and heavy boxes of books are physically demanding
From being able to see the behind the scenes of the central library, I have gotten a better insight of the complexity of the system. When working as a library assistance, you are constantly tested in many aspects. It requires one to be extremely skillful from being diligent, technical and adaptive. Being physically fit is also an essential as you are working in a environment that requires longs hours of standing, walking, and heavy lifting.
The communication and organizational skills that I have gained from this experience are just some of the many things I am able to apply to future careers and everyday aspects of life. With any type of job, you are constantly communicating with other people whether it may be with your co-workers or the public. As a library assistance, you need to have good oral and written communication skills as they are constantly socializing with the public. All the while, they need to be prepared to handle and adapt to various situations.
Being organized is a main skill of being a library assistance because you are regularly cataloging and sorting materials. It is an essential skill to have in a job and life to be efficient, produce good quality work and leave good impressions. Representing yourself as a well planned person demonstrates that you are responsible and serious about your job.
I feel extremely fortunate for this experience as not only was I able to see things that are not usually seen by the public, but this experience has also given me the knowledge to guide me through my career path. I enjoyed learning about how the library system functions with it's various department and friendly staff. Seeing the large collections of new books was one of my favourite parts of the experience. Along with watching my sponsor work and perform her duties, I was also able to have some first-hand experience with such as...
Checking in books.
Working at the service desk
Unloading materials from totes.
I have gained so much from this adventure but one of the most important lessons my sponsor has taught me that no matter what happens and what career path I choose, just.....
"really go out and live"