Recommended Reading: Being A Librarian: Expectations Vs Reality

There are many common misconceptions about what it means to be a librarian. For example, some believe that librarians have the answer to every question fathomable. This is not true at all! Librarians are not AI come to life, and “Often, it comes down to simply being human.” To find the answers that patrons need, librarians will use the resources that they have, including fellow staff members, to help answer their patrons’ questions. There are countless other misjudgments about what it means to work in a library. Abby Hargreaves’ article, “Being A Librarian: Expectations Vs Reality” sheds some light on the truths and falsehoods surrounding common assumptions about library work.

Let’s start with the job title itself: librarian. That makes the job sound like one thing. However, the truth is that there are many different types of librarians: children’s librarians, adult services librarians, medical librarians, and even prison librarians. Moreover, not everyone in a library is a librarian. For example, if the lights go out or the bathroom floods, who do you call? You would rely on a maintenance worker to help fix these problems. It takes all of these different roles to help a library function smoothly. Libraries, like restaurants, have front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house workers. Those who work in circulation or managers who take care of day-to-day operations are more front of the house. Behind-the-scenes departments, in contrast, include those like communications, which alert the public to upcoming events, or even those who work on cataloging books. For a library to run smoothly, every department must give their all. 

Another claim that Hargreaves points out is that librarians are busy people! From helping to answer questions that patrons may have, weeding (or removing books from collections), to finding new materials to add to the shelves, librarians keep busy.

For all the hats that librarians and library workers have to wear to do their jobs correctly and adequately serve their communities, they are severely underpaid. As of November 2023, Ohio librarians have a median salary of $68,835, according to Despite being underpaid and overworked, Hargreaves’ article and my own interactions with librarians show us that they are extremely passionate about their jobs. 

“Being A Librarian: Expectations Vs Reality” debunks myths and stereotypes surrounding library work. This article is worth the read and really sheds some light on the importance of librarians in our communities. Read the article and learn a little more about the ins and outs of library work!

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