Move over Valentine's Day as we celebrate the big event of 14 February - Library Lovers' Day.
This day honours librarians, libraries, and library lovers in both Australia and New Zealand. If a day isn't enough for you to commemorate this occasion, some places have gone one better and made a month of it.
If you are already a library lover then this could be the ideal time to pop into your local library and make a date with a book, but if you are a lapsed library member you may need a little more motivation than this to fish out your library card and revisit us.
You have probably heard this multiple times over the past decade, but libraries really are about much more than books these days (though happily we still have our epic collections, with Tūranga, Christchurch’s new central library alone housing over 180,000 books). From a community hub offering programmes such as Wā Kōrero / Storytimes and Wā Pēpi / Babytimes and knit n yarn, to a place of learning with courses as varied as 3D printing workshops and CV help, libraries offer more than ever before.
As libraries have changed over the years, so of course has that mysterious presence amongst the stacks, the librarian. To help celebrate this worthy day, here are 5 myth busting facts you may not know about us.
We don’t get to shush
After four years of working in libraries, I can say with confidence that I have never witnessed the infamous librarian shush. While libraries are still a go-to for both group and individual study, there are pockets of noise to be found around the building, which can include gaming tournaments, storytimes, and even performances (such as CSO music trails through the libraries, and guest speakers). Having said that, behaviour such as impromptu singing by anyone who, well, can't sing, but has just always really wanted to pretended they are in a musical, will most likely prompt a modified version of the librarian shush (now this I have witnessed).
We do not live at our libraries
While we do become often worryingly attached to our collections, contrary to some opinions, we do not camp out in the library at night guarding the homestead like a rather less intimidating Cerberus in a cardy. It is pretty hard not to become attached to something you work with each day, and if that something is a collection of books containing gems you have read and even own yourself, it is inevitable that deep feelings will follow.
I have talked to my collection (contrary to popular opinion this isn't a worrying sign at all - that Anthony Trollope novel that hasn't been out in 3 years; it requires the odd word of encouragement), I have gone on holiday fretting about my collection, and yes there have been occasions where I have dreamed about my collection.
There are librarians that specialize in particular subject areas such as children's librarians, youth librarians, family history librarians, and reference librarians. If you are at a loss as to what you should read next, we want to help you find that next amazing read, so don't forget you can always ask us. Alternatively we actually love to hear about the book you have just read, so rather than force the handiest member of your family to listen to (unrelated) extracts from your current read, why not tell us (albeit more briefly) about it. We have bookgroups run by some of librarians if these moments don't quite hit the book sharing mark, and our librarians have written some great genre guides and blogs to help with your book selecting needs.
We do not just read books all day
A typical day for a librarian can involve finding a long-lost relative, demonstrating our health resources to a group of medical students, setting up an eBook platform, and trying to find an answer to that seemingly unanswerable homework question about dinosaurs. Mostly, we are really just detectives with books, determined to find that elusive nugget of information you have been hunting for. Remember that we can help you with research - pop in and ask us a sticky question, or if you think that it may take a lengthy amount of time, remember that you can book a librarian with the first 30 minutes free.
We can battle your stubborn computer
People may be a bit puzzled to learn that your local librarian could help you with a pesky IT problem, but in the course of a day many such inquiries come through the door- from transferring photos to your computer, to setting up a phone, to sussing out that mysterious document formatting. Ask us for a hand next time you have a trying IT moment or drop into one of our free tech drop in sessions. We aren't IT experts but there are many issues we can help you to work through, and we will not take out any failures on the computer.
We do not all sport glasses and buns
Disappointing as this may be, we do not live up to the traditional library sterotypes. I have met librarians who, outside of work, are writers, actors, journalists, artists, the list goes on. I am not one of these - but I do manage to eat epic portions of Thai food at work outings (achievement right there). Librarians are often teacher (eResource demos for tertiary schools), performer (storytimes) IT person (tech drop in), and researcher (family history courses) all rolled into one - so the profession attracts people from all backgrounds and varied skill sets. What all librarians do have in common is a love for learning and a determination to help people find that next life-changing book or discovery Ask us that obscure question that has been troubling you for months, we may just be able to help.