Balancing Act: One month, two libraries

The last month has been a true balancing act. Image courtesy of Library of Congress.

The last month has been a true balancing act. Image courtesy of Library of Congress, via Wikipedia.

Today will be my one month anniversary of starting my new part-time job in a different library system. It’s been a crazy month, mostly because I’ve had to learn a whole new set of policies for a new library system while not forgetting any of the policies for the first library system. It’s been a challenging but interesting balancing act for me. So I thought I would offer some thoughts on my first month and maybe some pointers for balancing two different jobs that are just similar enough to make remembering policies and procedures confusing. =D 

I took this second job because the first part-time job I took back in July would not be able to give me more than the 16-28 hours they hired me at. Those hours broke down to two 8-hour days every week, plus every other weekend (or an additional 12 hours). That is not enough to live on, no matter how frugal I was trying to be the past few months. My new job is a minimum 28 hours per week and they pay a whole lot more per hour than I was getting previously. I did have to cut back my hours at the original job to cover my commitments at the new one, but altogether I work 34 to 46 hours a week (depending on the week). So without further ado, here are my tips for surviving the balancing act.

  • Make a physical calendar: I put my weekly schedule into a color-coded Google spreadsheet and posted it onto my fridge. I mostly made it so my husband wouldn’t be confused by my schedule, but a month later I am still referring it to make sure that I don’t show up at the wrong library for my shift.
  • Take it slow: Think about your answer before you give it. Printing at one system is 10 cents a page and 15 cents at the other. That’s a surprisingly big difference to patrons, who will get quite angry if they are told the wrong number. Simply thinking before you speak is an easy way to make sure you are giving the best customer service, which is often the basis of success in libraries.
  • Give yourself a break: I love working in libraries and helping all of my patrons. But it’s not always perfect and sometimes patrons can really get on my last nerve. Now double that by two because I now have twice the number of patrons and twice the chances that our interactions can end negatively. Plus, twice a week I go from one job to the other, even though I often wish I was just going home instead. When I worked at newspapers, I never took breaks. I always ate dinner at my desk to keep from missing deadline. But I’ve learned that working in customer service requires taking time for yourself. When it all seems like too much, I excuse myself in order to take a deep breath and remember that everyone has a reason for not being pleasant sometimes.

Unfortunately, very little of December involved me doing schoolwork, so I’m not really sure how I’ll manage the two jobs plus school. Of course, I’m still working fewer hours per week than I was at the newspaper, so I’m sure it will be fine. But, of course, I’ll let you know more during the next semester!

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