Over the past two weeks, I was scheduled to cover some shifts at the front desk. Granted, I am often seen at the front desk, and I am well familiar with how to register patrons for library cards and get their materials checked out to them. I know how to send faxes and help people with the printer. I was doing it all, and feeling pretty competent in my front desk duties.
But, my feeling of competence quickly dissipated when I realized that I don't have any good suggestions for chapter books for 2nd grade readers. I have no idea how to look up who lived in your house before you did. And, I'm totally clueless when it comes to Android. Luckily, there are other library staff members who are great at all of these things!
My time at the front desk made me realize how nimble public library staff has to be. When we answer the phone or see a patron approach the desk, we really have no idea what comes next. Perhaps a young patron just wants to hand us a drawing of a red turtle. Maybe somebody needs help formatting a resume. Or somebody wants a recommendation for a scary movie. Library staff is constantly shifting from one role to another to serve our patrons in the best way we can.
When I got home after working the front desk, I felt a sense of accomplishment. I felt like I actually made a difference. Because you see, at the library we make people smile, every day. We provide a sense of relief for patrons, every day. We teach patrons a new skill, every day. And, at the end of every day, library work is good work.