A day in the life of a librarian


Photo: Emily Persons

Mrs. Leah Allison works to improve the library by putting away a book that was put in the wrong spot, making it available for students to find easily. The library has been a fundamental part of the St. George’s community since its founding, hosting a quiet place for studying and reading.

You walk in and then eventually back out. You go in looking for a leisure read, study time or help with resources and leave feeling accomplished. The one constant element every time is the librarian sitting behind the desk at the entrance of the library. However, what most assume is a boring and effortless job actually entails chaos and constant work.

It seems as though writing monthly emails about recommended or new books, along with scanning those that are checked in and out, does not require significant time or effort. In reality, being a librarian is one of the busiest jobs, constantly adding tasks to their mile-long to-do list.

Both Mrs. Leah Allison and Mrs. Hillary Efkeman are the librarians of the St. George’s Collierville campus, and a typical day for them involves many responsibilities that take longer than one would expect.

“Things we do tend to be cyclical, and we’re never really done with a project,” said Mrs. Allison. A great example of this is the entry of new or donated books to the St. George’s library collection. Descriptions, which use specific vocabulary along with general information, must be recorded into the online catalog.

Once information from new books has been entered and been made part of the collection officially, there are always more awaiting the same process. Upon checking books in and out, those materials must be scanned upon leaving and being returned to the library. These inventory-related tasks are some of the less interesting jobs of a librarian.

“The least favorite task is inventory, having to scan all the books in the library to see what is missing,” said Mrs. Efkeman.

One reason why these types of recurrent tasks take much time to be completed is because of the often interruption of questions or help needed by students or faculty, which is another part of the job.

“I am the type of librarian that, if a student comes in, I want to drop whatever it is, and work with that student,” said Mrs. Allison. Though it takes away from finishing written work, interaction is an enjoyable part of their day.

Being in a library, most assume that another crucial part of a librarian’s day is reading. However, productivity requires librarians to do more than just read.

“I usually do most of my reading outside of normal hours, but I do try to read a significant number of books, so that I can recommend them to the right students,” said Mrs. Efkeman.

As for online work, the material on the St. George’s library website is all added and updated by the librarians. Resource lists and database management is a critical part of their job. Mrs. Allison stated that dealing with vendors who want to sell new databases and updates can take up to one-fourth of her time.

Mrs. Allison also provides instruction about student resources during periods set up by teachers who assign research assignments. She is also responsible for creating the library budget and paying bills for charges with databases or books ordered online by students.

Among the unsuspected jobs of a librarian is creating the archives of the St. George’s story, which may include newspaper clippings or other media coverage. Memorabilia is collected and added to these archives as well.

However, apart from desk or library work, both librarians proctor the students in the library. Mrs. Allison said that she sometimes catches students kissing or snuggling, which is often apart of monitoring the library and its activities.

Moreover, the librarians of St. George’s are some of the only faculty members who have the opportunity to create relationships with all the students.

“I get to interact with every single student here on campus,” said Mrs. Allison. “It’s not that I get to talk to just one student or one grade on a subject, [but] I actually get to interact with every student here.”

Altogether, Mrs. Allison and Mrs. Efkeman do everything in their power to keep the library up and running and in its best shape, whether it be with the collection of books, databases or student help.