As some of you may know, I have been a librarian for 6 months, I now work in the tourism industry and I might go back to the library in the Fall. Thus, I have gained a (very) tiny experience in the field of library science and I think that I now have an idea of the top qualities of what I would call a “good” librarian. As I know that most of you love reading and that some have a lot of questions about becoming a librarian, I thought that a post on that topic might be useful. Here are, for me, the top qualities of a “good” librarian, enjoy!
Know how to listen
If you become a librarian, chances are that you will need to make book recommandations. To do so, you will need to put your own tastes aside and to focus on what the person in front of you is saying. You will also need to remember what this person told you the previous times in order to be able to create a curated list of recommandations. The best way to be able to remember, quite obviously, is to listen carefully. Thus, each time a reader talks to you, make sure you are focused on what they have to say in order to be able, later on, to recommand the best books possible for them.
Public speaking is key
Usually, we think that librarian is a perfect job for shy people. However, sorry to burst your bubble, but it is certainly not. You will likely need to make conferences about a wide varitety of topics and, at the very least, to do public readings. Thus, I would advise you to do a work on yourself if you feel that you are not confident enough when it comes to public speaking. I know, it is a very hard task but, believe me, this will definitely help you in the long run.
Chances are that you will get to work with children at some point in your career. Thus, patience will definitely be key for you as sometimes, children can get quite complicated to deal with. However, it is part of the job and working with them can be so rejuvenating: it is all worth it in my opinion. Moreover, children aren’t the only ones to potentially have an impact of your level of patience ; adults can too! I do not count the number of times I have been asked the “book with the red cover” or “that book I do not remember the author of but in which there is a murder”. Sometimes, you can just loose patience, but it is so important to really keep looking for that particular book with the reader. Thus, I do think that patience is really key in that job, and to be honest, I am sure it is key in so many areas of life and necessary to a happy life.
Being a librarian does not only mean lending books. It is obviously a big part of the job, but you also need to think about what comes before and after lending that particular book. Before, you need to think about what type of book you will actually buy for your library. Thus, you need to be curious and stay up to date with new releases, and you need to be creative in your choices in order to make your library stand out. After, you need to show readers how interesting thatbook is. Thus, you will probably think about creative ways to display it on the shelves or about a little exhibition around that book. In my library, we love creating selections of books around specific topics and display them gracefully on dedicated tables. Thus, the book comes to the reader and not the other way around. Once more, I really do think being creative is one of the most important qualities in that job as it will dictate what you buy and how you present it to readers. Thus, your creativity basically dictates the life of the library.
Last but not least, you need to be joyful. Of course, we can’t be happy all the time (it would be beyond unhealthy to try) but as in every job that puts you in contact with people, being joyful and smiling is absolutely necessary. Moreover, people usually come in libraries to live a moment out of time and forget about their everyday struggles. Thus, you want (in the limit of what is possible) to help that process by being joyful. Libraries tend to calm me and to be honest, even after my recent breakup, going to work in my beautiful library was one of the most therapeutic things in the world. Being joyful in libraries tends to be natural for me, and thus I hope that I am able to share that feeling with readers.
As you understood, being a librarian means a lot to me and I have quite a clear image of the librarian I personally want to be. However, please keep in mind that these ideas are only mine and that not every librarian has to be this way. I have colleagues who differ a lot from some of the points mentionned today, and it does not prevent them from being perfect librarians. We all have different ideas and ideals, which is fine. I only want this post to give you a global idea of the qualities you might want to look for in yourself in you are considering that job. However, as always to land a job, my top adivce would be the cliché one: be yourself. If you are true to yourself, then you will naturally be attracted to what is really meant for you (which applies to jobs too).
I sincerely wish you the best of all day,