JustJob Interviews: Librarian

JustJobs interviews professionals working in a variety of fields. The good folks there have given me permission to post some of their interviews here. So if you’re wondering what it’s like to work in a specific field, you might want to check in here frequently. I’ll be posting interviews as I get them.

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This librarian has learned that language is only one of the differences between cultures. She has overcome discrimination and hopes she can travel the world to see the amazing things she’s only read about. She shares her story with AllHispanicJobs.com, as have others, like a Banking Branch Manager and an Administrative Assistant

What is your job title? How many years of experience do you have in that field?

My job title is Assistant Children’s Librarian. I have worked in our local library for ten years.

Would you describe the things you do on a typical day?

The majority of my work day is sorting the new and returned items, checking in and assisting with check out, as well as read-along activities with local children.

What’s your ethnicity and gender? How has it hurt or helped you? If you ever experienced discrimination, how have you responded and what response worked best?

I was born and raised in El Salvador, my parents’ only daughter. The entire staff here is female, and I have never come across a male librarian, so I would think being a woman helped me. I faced a fair amount of discrimination due to not only being from El Salvador, but also for having an accent. I worked very hard to both increase my vocabulary, as well as my pronunciation. I believe working on these has greatly improved how I am viewed by people here.

Do you speak any language other than English? If so, how has it helped you in your job?

Along with English, I speak Spanish. The small town that I live in has very few people that do not speak English, so this has not been an issue for me. One nice thing is that it is very common for English speaking parents to want their children to know how to speak Spanish. This has opened up a lot of opportunities for me to teach Spanish to groups of children. I really enjoy teaching this way.

On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What would it take to increase that rating?

I love my job and the people that I work with and the children that I get to see every day. I would be happy to work this job for the rest of my life!

What did you learn the hard way in this job and how did that happen?

I learned that there are cultural differences that it would be good to know before interacting with people. In El Salvador, we do not treat animals like people, but in America it is very common. I received an e-mail from a co-worker and my name was not capitalized, but the name of the animal was. I took this as an insult, but it was explained to me that I should not take it that way. It was an awkward time for my co-worker and myself.

What don’t they teach in school that would’ve been helpful to you?

School back home is very different than it is here, so I don’t know what they teach in school here, but learning about different cultures would have been very helpful for me.

How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?

I was told about a job fair at the local library. I went there and was not able to register because there were already too many people talking with the employers. I guess I looked pretty sad, because one of the women that worked there started asking me what type of job I was looking to get. We started talking about jobs and I ended up being hired the same day. I don’t think I would want anything to be different.

What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?

There was an old man that would come in each day and sit and read the newspaper. He did this everyday for months. One day he came in and brought me an open soda and a half eaten candy bar. I said thank you, but it was really weird.

On a good day when things are going well, can you give an example of something that really makes you feel good?

I really love reading stories to groups of kids that are excited to learn. When a big group of children are following every word that I am saying it makes me feel really important.

When nothing seems to go right, what kind of snafus do you handle and what do you dislike the most?

The worst days are when we the schools return all of their books at once. That is a lot of paperwork that needs to be done very quickly.

How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance?

Other than the time every year when schools return books, my job is very low stress. It is not hard to leave work at work.

What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough considering your responsibilities?

I make around $11 per hour. I would like more money, but I don’t think that will happen.

What’s the most rewarding moment you’ve experienced in this position? Of all the things you’ve done at work, what are you most proud of?

I was put in charge of organizing the release of one of the Harry Potter books. I was able to secure our shipment, and organize lots of activities for both the children, and the adults that were excited about the book. It was a great experience, and everyone had so much fun!

What’s the most challenging moment you’ve experienced? What would you prefer to forget?

Even though there are rules to conducting yourself properly in a library, there are children that can be very destructive and don’t respect them at all. There have been times that we have spent many hours after closing cleaning up the mess. Those are definitely not fun times.

What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?

You just need to finish high school to work in this library. The skills required are reading, writing, and multi-tasking all day. Other than that, you also have to be an organized person, and have basic customer service skills.

What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?

If someone I knew told me they wanted to be a librarian, I would advise them to go for it. It is a very good job, and a lot of fun sometimes, but be ready because it’s more work that it seems.

How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?

I am allowed two weeks of vacation per year. I think that is just fine.

Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?

I am not aware of any common misunderstandings that people have about librarians other than we are not all old ladies!

Does this job move your heart? If not, what does?

I wouldn’t say that this job moves my heart, even though I have had moving moments while working here.

If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?

Actually, I would like to become a lawyer. I would love to be able to help people in need and I think I would be able to do much more for others.

Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?

If I didn’t have to work, I would spend my traveling around the world. There are so many beautiful places I have read about that I would like to see with my own eyes.

Also, I believe I am living the American dream as an immigrant, and I am very proud of that.

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