Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

It Isn’t Always Easy Being a Librarian

Jill Silverberg
The experience of throwing out books is perhaps the one part of being a librarian that I do not like. I’m not sure why, but I just find the notion of tossing books away to be kind of sad. Unfortunately for me, this past Friday at my new job working as a library assistant/intern at a law library, my co-workers and I had to toss out a good chunk of the library’s collection. Going into the day, I had come in prepared to do some moving, thinking that we were merely going to be moving boxes over to the library’s temporary location until the building was finished being renovated. What I did not know was that we would be throwing out books. However, since all these books were outdated and the library could not find any one who would be interested in purchasing them, there was only one solution left. The thing is, in the world of law libraries, things change frequently. Once something is outdated, even if it just under two years old, its most likely going to be useless.

At first, it just felt strange tossing the books into massive recycling bins. I was actually told by my supervisor to just chuck them in, that I didn’t need to worry about placing them down gently. Two hours later, a good third of the library’s bookshelves were emptied out, an entire dumpster now filled to the brim with law books and other related materials.

“Well that was sure something,” I said, my arms extremely sore from all of the heavy lifting and such.

“Yea,” a co-worker said, “too bad we have to do this again next week.”

I practically fell out of my chair when they said that. We were going to be doing this again?

In school, they prepare us to go out into the world of library and information based institutions and instruct us on how to work with both people and different types of information materials. We learn not only how to properly index and catalog sources, but how to handle them as well. In some classes, we learn the necessary skills to help repair, restore, and preserve materials. What we don’t learn (or at least I haven’t yet) is to say goodbye when the material is simply no longer needed. To me, books are precious materials. Over the years, I’ve learned how to treat and handle books with care, to show them the respect that they deserve. Throwing them out into oblivion is not my first instinct when a book is no longer needed, and yet, it is often the only option.

This past Friday, I learned what perhaps others already knew: that being a librarian is not always easy. Even so, in the capacity of a librarian, we often have to get rid of the old to make way for the new. Removing a large amount of books might be a tough reality, but if they removed for the sake of providing necessary improvements to the library, then their removal is at least not in vain. Going into work next week knowing that there are more blue recycling bins waiting to be filled saddens me a bit, but I know that at in the long run, it will all be worth it.