I often receive looks of confusion when I answer the "what do you do?" question. I am a Library Technician. Once I convince then that I am not a volunteer who visits eight schools several times a month, and that not only is it 'cool' that I bring a laptop to 'entertain' myself during these visits, that I actually WORK in the library, the question inevitably comes up: "so, you fix the library computer each time you are here?".
Well, yes and no. I 'fix the library computer' each visit in that I update the collection and patron databases and in that I provide the unofficial tech expertise of making sure the connections on the circulation computer are secure or that the monitor is actually turned on, making it 'work'. Perhaps it is the word 'tech' that makes them think I fix the computer, or that, at times, I seem to be the only one who can locate the paper jam in the printer, or shake the toner cartridge to squeeze out those last few prints.
I can understand the confusion, after all, I am only at each school every eight school days. I sit at a desk in the corner and type away furiously on a laptop I carry around with me. I am often surrounded by processing supplies, piles of books and frequently quote Dewey numbers at them when there is a long line at the library catalogue computer. I must seem a strange creature.
To many I am the 'girl' who knows where the books are and can suggest a title for that book with the blue cover they used last year. To most, I am the one who can make the check-in screen appear, make the printer work (have I mentioned that yet?), and who knows why The Diary of Anne Frank is not in the fiction section even though it is the same size as those books.
I have been at my current complement of eight elementary schools for 4 years now. That is about 26 visits each year. I sign in when I arrive, greet the office and custodial staff(who are usually the only people in as early as I am), I reclaim my desk from the piles of stuff that migrates there during my absence. I eat lunch in the staff room, I greet classes as they come in,I post frequently to the staff and school on-line conference and I answers student and staff questions all day. So how is it that no one really knows what I do?
This school year my Library Technician colleagues and I are attempting an formal awareness and self-promotion campaign to remedy this. The timing works out well for me as I will have new principals at five of my eight schools and three new Teacher Librarians. We will be focusing on the services we can provide to all staff, not just those teachers that regularly bring their classes to the library. The hope is to make sure everyone knows we exist and that we can help. We are a resource - use us! I also hope to put to rest and traditional feelings of competition teaching staff may have with my role. I am not trying to 'out' the Teacher Librarian from the library. I am not trying to take her job. I have my own work, thank-you very much, that keeps me ridiculously busy.
I love my job. I am surrounded by books, people, information and learning. I frequently have multiple labels and bits of booktape on my fingers. I know just how to wiggle the wires to make the internet work. I can tell you that we have a book of lions and tigers in 599.75 and that yes, it is at the perfect reading level for your grade 2 class. I can put the new 39 clues book to the front of the cataloguing pile so that Johnny, who refused to read anything else, will have a book for this weekend. I can locate that title you need tomorrow at 3 other schools and arrange to have one sent to you. I can connect the data projector, locate that streaming video you saw last month and I can work with the lights out while you show it to your class. I select and order books, sometimes with the Teacher Librarian and sometimes at her request because she has no time. I can incorporate programming and marketing ideas that have worked well at my other locations and give a heads up to problems that others have already encountered and solved. Yes, I can help you find your login, your password and I can direct you to the I.T. Department for computer fixes. I know a guy. Ask me a question. Finding the answer or showing you how to find it makes me happy. It's what I do. I am a Library Technician. I don't bite. And yes, I can usually make that printer work.