Things they don’t tell you in library school

I am convinced that there should be an entire class on printer maintenance. I’m pretty certain I spend a good quality of my day fighting with our printer. While we do have an IT department, we are so low on their priority list that it’s just more efficient if I tackle it myself.

I hate you little red error light

This morning I found myself shouting, on several occasions, “THERE IS NO PAPER JAM!” at our printer. I’d open drawers and doors and rub on it gently to coax out the printout. After a few clean sheets, the little red blinky light would yell at me again that there was a jam. I’d open doors and drawers only to discover no paper was stuck and I’d shout louder this time, as if it would suddenly understand what I was saying. Only of course, it did not. After several more attempts at trying to print, I finally heard the familiar crinkle of paper in to that familiar according shape and I knew then there was an official problem. But of course, this was after I had spent nearly an hour trying to tame the beast.

As I mentioned above, we’re very low on the priority list when it comes to IT. So I’ve become somewhat of a technology guru amongst my staff. It doesn’t help that I’ve got most of them beat by a good 20 years so I probably do know more than a lot of them. But I found myself today  helping someone figure out how to attach three PDFs to an email by click hold and dragging them in to email.

I also was called over to assist a coworker who didn’t know how to englarge the view in Microsoft Word. These are basic skills I assume most people know, but it turns out I find myself teaching this sort of stuff more often than I thought.

I spent 2+ hours this week making copies of words out of the Oxford English Dictionary. I never in my life thought this is what I would be doing for a living. But there I was, copying nearly 20 words out of the OED. Did you know the word “over” has nearly 11 pages of definitions? Yeah, I shouldn’t know that either. I’m glad to see my MLS being put to good work.

I had to call a local university library to track down a section of a code from the 1980s in a state not our own. I had little to go on (big surprise), but enough to know that the attorney didn’t know what section it was in nor did he know the wording of it at the time. So I was commissioned to call the reference desk and see if they could assist us in maybe loaning the books to us so we could do some investigating.

And hour later, I was told we were doing our research all wrong and that he wouldn’t assist me any further until I had a section to present to him.

After a series of phone calls back and forth, I FINALLY got him to send us a copy of the table of contents so we had something to go on.

No one tells you that you will get scolded by other librarians for doing your job other than how they would do it. No one tells you that your job will be to politely say “thank you” for doing what they can and then grumble about it once you’re off the phone.


There’s not a class in how to handle crazy Wednesdays with class and a smile on your face. And there’s definitely not a class in how to make cocktails but there should be because I kind of feel like I need one after today.


About indie librarian

a recently MLS librarian's observations
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