Thursday, May 5, 2016

Today At The Desk...

Once again I found myself returning to my roots and shelving in the Children's Department after the most recent page quit after just 4 months. Some people seem to think shelving is beneath them if they are not a page, but I actually like doing it. No, seriously!

Even though my back is very glad I no longer spend 3-4 hours a day shelving and I'm thrilled to get to do storytime and interact more directly with patrons now, I find I miss some things about shelving. First of all, the scientific/mathematical side of my brain enjoys the sorting of things, the order and structure of it all. It is all black and white; everything has it's correct spot, and it's either right or wrong. I've always said shelving is really a mathematical skill, and if you want someone who will shelve accurately, look to hiring people with a math or science background, rather than a literature background. Sorting, classifying, putting things in alphabetical or Dewey decimal order....that's all math.  

Shelving also helps keep me attuned to the collection. I know what books we have and where they are. I can keep up with trends and what is popular, because if I shelve it, that means it was checked out, or at least looked at in the building. New books I may have missed when they first came in have another chance to catch my attention. Also while shelving (or shelf-reading), I come across undiscovered gems that end up making great storytime books. So many picture books come out every year that it is really hard for books that are not by well-known authors to get noticed, and sometimes very good books just simply get over-looked. I love finding these hidden treasures! Oftentimes I find inspiration for my storytime programs or books I want to read while shelving.

Another reason I like doing a bit of shelving from time to time is it keeps me busy and moving. It might seem paradoxical, but nothing is more tiring than a slow day. Days where I don't have a lot of patrons to help seem to drag on forever, leaving me so drained and tired. I always find things to work on: storytime prep and planning, straightening the shelves, filling displays, etc., but it just isn't the same as staying busy interacting with people. Busy days seem to fly by and usually make me feel energized, rather than drained. Having shelving to do keeps me moving and busy, and I still feel like I've been productive, even on a slow day.

So today I happily shelved two carts and some DVD's, helped connect several patrons with the materials they needed, pulled materials for holds and transfer, introduced a patron to our Mango language service, and tracked down the "lost" parent of an unattended child. All-in-all, it was a great afternoon. 

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