“Why are YOU in charge?”

(posted originally on Tumblr)

The way things work at my library is that there are a couple of library associates. Some of them are a little newer, some of them have been here for years and years. You just need a bachelor’s to do that. Then there’s the Librarian and the main difference is that they have an MLS and supervisory roles. Then there’s the Area Librarians who are basically Librarian+s, and then there are some higher level Librarians (who work either at Headquarters or are Branch Managers).

Of course the library works to make sure everyone is happy in their position. If you want to move up, they help you get there. If you want to stay where you are, they let you stay there. If you want to move lower or start working part time, they’ll help you do that, too. Which means that a lot of people with tons of experience aren’t quite high up on the totem pole. And new Librarians, like me, somehow get lots of power when they are still learning everything.

When there’s no one above me in the library, I’m in charge. This happens on a pretty regular basis. I get to answer hard questions, deal with mad patrons, and even close the building! It’s exciting. But it’s weird.

At 24, I’m the youngest staff member. And it can be a big barrier when dealing with people who look at you like you’re a baby and ask why they can’t talk to someone “with more authority than you.” It’s hard to explain why those authoritative-looking older women manning the info desk can’t help you, but this young girl can.

I’m learning how to navigate these kinds of questions and issues, but uhg it’s weird.

It’s not like I’m making huge decisions, just kind of interpreting policy when there are questions and dealing with whatever problem may come (for example, a broken toilet or customer complaints). It’s nice to get experience with responsibility and I actually really love being put into uncomfortable situations. Learning how to manage, interpret, and make decisions is part of my job, and I love that.

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