I studied Library Science and working in a public library was my first job which set me up for my working life (Read my other blog post about this – it’s my highest read post!) I often look back on those days and remember with fondness all the activities which kept me busy.
As a team of librarians, we didn’t just stamp books and ask people to be quiet. There were lessons in every thing we did back then which make complete sense to me now.
1. Seek silence
I can still remember the music streaming throughout the library floor during the day as people strolled around. Sometimes it was classical but my personal favorite was the soundtrack to “On Golden Pond”. People walked in rushed, but their pace and body language changed after a few minutes as they made their way through the maze of shelves. In a world which has gone mad, you need to find your own peace and quiet, a place to zone out. With so much noise and anger, especially on social media, make time to go offline and find silence in the real world.
2. Be organized and neat
Before we opened the doors at 9am each day, the team of librarians made sure the library was clean and organized. We would sit in front of the books in a straight line and make sure that each and every book was in its place, exactly where it should be. You’d always find the odd lost fiction book, where someone had randomly shoved it between other books. Non-fiction was particularly important in making sure the Dewey Decimal system was adhered to. This habit has stuck with me & to this day, has helped me find the order and structure I need at work to be efficient.
3. Make time for tea, always
Working for the Council meant that we followed typical old school working hours. Stopping for tea was the norm back then. We’d even have a tea room where we would sit, relax and sometimes even read for 15 minutes. I miss those days. Switching off and taking a break felt like a mini reward. But now, we’re stuck in this “busyness hype” where we eat at our desk over our laptops and if you do stop to catch your breath, it’s frowned upon. There’s nothing wrong with pausing & catching your breath. In fact, it’s a habit we really should practice more often.
4. Forgive and forget
Returning the library books before the due date was tough for some people. And I get that. Life happens. The same faces would return their books late and have to pay a fine. But once they did, all was forgiven and they’d choose a whole new set of books to leave with. You knew you’d hear the same excuses when they were late again, but it didn’t matter. Forgive and forget. It’s a good attitude to have. Rather allow people to enjoy the books than focus on the punishment. Which one mattered more?
5. Be known for the things you love
The kids from the nearby schools would run into the library to do their homework every afternoon. Helping them find info on topics such as Egypt’s pyramids or the human body was always fun. But so too when you’d assist someone who had started a new hobby to find every book they could to read up on. I knew exactly where to find the info they were looking for, often without having to check on the system. If you’re passionate about what you do, you become the expert and can help people find what they need. No matter what job you’re in, there’s no greater satisfaction than this!
6. Get excited by the small things, because they matter
One of the best days working in the library was month end when the new books would arrive! We had the advantage of unpacking them and booking the ones we wanted to read first. The smell of those boxes, of the fresh, new books and being the first person to turn those pages… pure delight! You need to invest in your own happiness and know what brings you joy. It’s so important to seek out and anticipate these special moments! Find them!
The whole library system is built on trust. People register to join the library and then each week, get the opportunity to leave the building with a handful of books, promising to return them. And they do! (well, majority of people). How crazy that in a world riddled with crime and corruption, the library works on a system based entirely on trust. It’s a system still respected by society.
Do libraries still exist in communities and suburbs? I haven’t been to one in years! When last did you visit your nearest library or bookshop? Next time you do, remember a few of these lessons.
Credit: Images sourced from Google