things i heard at the library: an occasional series: #12

I'm enjoying my new position so much! Things are going really well so far. I'm preparing for teen book club, researching display ideas, and planning some (I hope) interesting programs. I'll write about those as they happen.

So far I'm feeling well, too. I'm still adjusting to full-time work, but I'm not collapsing from it, either. Readers, you were right. Doing work that you love makes a huge difference. So does a more humane work environment. In the library, no one expects everything done yesterday, everyone understands the concept of a learning curve, and most people truly understand teamwork and support each other. And because I belong to a union (and, management would say, because the City of Mississauga is a good employer), I have a full hour dinner or lunch break, good ergonomics, and other supports. This is a tad different than working as support staff in a corporate law firm!

Today's "things I heard..." highlights two features of our library system that I love - features that illustrate the importance of libraries to the community.

Next week, secondary school students begin exam week, and we expect to see a huge influx of students needing a place to study. The library opens extra rooms to accommodate them, and offers other little supports, such as designated areas where people can eat, extra space for group study, and a "stressbuster" room so students can get away from their books and computers to refocus.

Yesterday I attended a little prep session for library staff on our exam-week policies, and how we can support students who need us. Along with a review of our policies, our manager reminded us: be kind. Be understanding.

The other program I'm seeing up-close for the first time is our homebound library service for people unable to come to the library themselves. This can be a long-term arrangement for a senior or person with disabilities, or a short-term arrangement for a customer recuperating from an illness. (Of course, plenty of people with disabilities come to the library, which is fully accessible. This service recognizes that not everyone can.)

When I'm at my desk, I overhear two staff members from my department on the phone with homebound customers. They learn how customers felt about their last delivery - which books they enjoyed, what they want more or less of - and make notes for their next delivery. Then they select four weeks' worth of materials - books, music, movies, magazines - for each customer, and that shipment is delivered to their door, sans due dates or fines.

These are the kinds of things that make me proud to be part of the larger library community.

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