Profile of a Branch Librarian (Small Library)

What is your role/ title? If you are happy to include your name and

organisation please also add these.

I am part-time branch librarian. Peggy Byrne, Enniskerry Branch, Wicklow County Council Library Service.

What path did you take to get to your current role. This can be quite general, but will give readers an idea of what career paths can lead to certain types of roles.

On returning from 11 years in the US working as an occupational health and safety nurse (23 years in total) I looked at the Wicklow website thinking they would need a safety officer but the only thing being advertised at the time was the job as a part-time Branch Librarian in Enniskerry and I applied for it.

Describe a typical day. If you don’t have a ‘typical’ day, are there any duties that you regularly have to perform as part of your role.

Everything! Included in my day is the obvious librarian work; checking in and out items, requesting items, supplying the schools with books during the school term, the usual shelving etc. In addition I also have to maintain the hygiene of the library. So I’m a housekeeper as well as a librarian. I manage the cash and library statistics. I run a book club once a month. I used to do a reading corner but due to the insurance risks and Garda vetting required for parents reading this no longer takes place.

What traditional library skills are important to have within your role?

Good communication has to be top of the list. Patience and most definitely a sense of humour. A reasonable knowledge of the collection. Good organisational skills are also essential, especially since you are a solo librarian. Reasonable IT Skills would be needed too.

What non-traditional library skills are important to have within your role?

That’s a difficult one. Every day is different and every borrower has different needs. We’re a small branch so I’m not sure I use many of what you might think of as non-traditional library skills.

Are there any specific software packages or technologies you use on a regular basis within your role?

I would use Microsoft Word a lot. It’s versatile for notices, posters, reports for HQ, book lists etc. I would access Borrowbooks.ie to help borrowers find books in other library services. We would use the internet a lot for new releases information, etc. We use Horizon LMS.

What is the most rewarding part of your role?

When somebody comes in and says that was a fantastic book. When you recommend something to a borrower and it works. Children using and enjoying the library service. Finding obscure requests gives a great sense of achievement.

What is the most challenging part of your role?

Rudeness. It can be the hardest thing to deal with in people. I suppose also the subliminal threat (rarely but it is there) that you are on your own and can feel a bit vunerable.

What are the career prospects within your area of librarianship? For new entrants/for promotion?

Zilch. For me that is. Given my advanced age it’s just reality. And that is not being ageist. For new entrants I would say it is pretty good, whether moving within the organisation or from outside the service, there are great prospects there. The volume of experience you would gain working as a solo branch librarian would set you up for any future job/promotion.

Do you have any advice for people interested in pursuing a role in your genre of librarianship.

You need to be out-going. A people person. It’s definitely not an office job, there is a skill in dealing with the public. Good communication skills. A pleasant manner. Helpfulness. Good IT Skills. Good trouble shooting skills. You need to be flexible. Good ability to make judgement calls as you’re working alone, you have no back up.

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