Once a Librarian, Always a Librarian

Last Update: July 24, 2020

I've been a librarian in a variety of positions, from children's librarian to the reference desk to branch head and more. I've worked in California, Oregon, and Colorado. Even though it's been some years since I worked in public libraries, I've frequently said, "Once a librarian, always a librarian." What I meant by this was that the tendency to help others find what they were looking for becomes ingrained. I do it here at WA, simply can't help myself.

So a couple of years ago, I couldn't resist buying the t-shirt that shows in the top image.

It says:

ONCE A LIBRARIAN
ALWAYS A LIBRARIAN
NO MATTER WHERE YOU GO
OR WHAT YOU DO
YOU CAN NEVER TRULY
GET OUT OF
[THE] LIBRARY
IT'S LIKE THE MAFIA
YOU KNOW TOO MUCH

I've never been likened to the Mafia before, but hey I'll take it.

Being a librarian lends itself to other work related to organizing knowledge, like writing websites and blog posts, and I know that there are quite a few of us librarians here. If you are one, please admit to it in the comments below. Or if you know someone else here who has that background, feel free to tell on them!

People think of librarians as sedate and even dull, but it's not the case. We have to deal with the public in all sorts of ways. When I was a children's librarian, telling stories to a group of four-year-olds sitting on the carpet in a large all-purpose room, one of them got tired of my tale, crawled over to another kid, and said loudly "What's your name?" Things like this made subsequent public speaking engagements to adults much easier.

Or there was the man waving around an open bottle of apricot brandy in the public library one day during the holidays when we were short staffed. I did persuade him to leave before the carpet got drenched.

At a branch I ran, there was a guy who sat and stared at me in a creepy way. Ugh.

Another library patron would loudly call out, "Celery! CELERY!" and eventually I figured out that was the name or maybe nickname of her young daughter.

I did like being able to go up to people and ask if I could help them find something. Often, I could. One time someone wanted to know where the books on horses were. When I asked for more details, it turned out he wanted to know who won the Kentucky Derby in a certain year.

But when someone wanted to know everything about cyanide, I was glad the reference desk was so busy that I didn't have time to delve into that topic.

A question I received frequently was, "Remember the book you found for me two weeks ago? I want another like it." People rarely realized I might not remember.

So being a librarian has left me with mostly happy memories. And I could probably tell a few tales about things that have happened here, but I'll leave that alone. For now, anyway.

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Babou3 Premium
The library and their librarian will always remain the reference for a large part of the children. It is often in libraries that we begin to learn to read, enjoy reading, and love words. I run a book club in a friend's library for the children and I always see their eyes marvel when they speak their own way about the book they have read. Long live the librarians!

Ingrid
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MKearns Premium
A writer that produces works and the keeper of those works go hand in hind. Great post Rosanna!
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Sui_generis Premium
Ahhhhh, the library. One of my favorite places. Back in "the day", you could send your child out alone. I'd go to our library (I was about 5-6) and I was so short, I couldn't reach the counter to check my books out. Since I was a frequent visitor, they got me a little stool to use. My goal in life was to be a librarian. I'm not sure where I got sidetracked but I'm thinking high school when I realized that librarian's weren't "cool" (or so I was lead to believe).

I still have a HUGE collection of books and you will find a book or books on most flat surfaces in my house. I can still spend HOURS in a library (or book store). I find I end up helping people at either too. I like "I'm looking for this one particular book. It has a blue cover..............."

~Debbi
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RosanaHart Premium
Looking for a blue cover, or a red one, or whatever....oh yeah, I've done that! And often they haven't remembered the color correctly anyway.
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Sui_generis Premium
I know, right? LOL
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zydegeaux Premium
I had never thought of library patrons as a rowdy crowd.

Have you ever heard the song Love in the Library by Jimmy Buffett? I haven't heard it in years but for some reason your post dragged it out of the deep recesses of my memory.

It's not one of his better known songs but having once lived in Mobile, Alabama for a couple of years i realized he was referencing the library on the corner of Government and Bay in Mobile.
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RosanaHart Premium
No, don't know that song. Thanks for the reference. Another library-related song is "Marian the Librarian" from the show and later film, "The Music Man."
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NicholaJames Premium
Hi Rosana,

Thanks for sharing your past life as a librarian! Great Memories! Indeed, you do know too much! I enjoyed your story. Wishing you the very best!

Kind regards,
Nichola
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