Life in the library: High-fives outshine the lows

Blogger’s note: This is the first entry in an occasional series where I share the highs and lows of working in a public library.

The very first day of my library job was just a little overwhelming. Much of the training in public libraries is done on-the-job. So the whole day was basically spent checking with coworkers about this or that policy and being shown how to use the different systems. After being the expert on pretty much everything at my previous job, it was quite disconcerting to know basically nothing. Since then I’ve learned loads about my job and my library, but I still remember that feeling of having no idea how to help someone.

Getting a high five was the highlight of my first day at work.

High-fives are my favorite form of thank-you.

But what I remember most about that day was a high five. The reference desk is situated right next to the public computers, which means that about half of my day is spent helping people use the computers, browsers and programs on those computers. And while this may seem like a boring job to some, it often leads to some great opportunities to really help people. Like the retiree who needed help filling out an online application because she couldn’t survive on her retirement anymore. That’s completely worthwhile to me, and she had such a positive attitude that it was fun spending time with her. And when I showed her how to upload a resume that would fill in the online application for her, she applauded (quietly…it is a library, after all) and then she gave me a high five. I couldn’t help smiling the rest of the day, even when I had to deal with not so great situations.

In the past month, I’ve had highs and lows working in a public library. But, strangely, it’s the highs that stick out in my memory. I plan to share more of these moments, just so I don’t ever forget them. Who knew that getting high-fives from grateful patrons would turn out to be one of the best parts of my job?

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