Brash Jobs: What Library School DOESN’T Teach You, Part 5: Management

Hey Friends!

Holy smokes, what a week or two it’s been.

Ever since I took this new job as Circulation Manager, it’s been a roller coaster of crazy. Yes, I’ve been a manager before, but that was Technical Services with a staff of three; I’m now running a staff quadruple that in a department that deals with angry patrons – let alone dealing with the public. I’ve been too busy to write, but it’s been getting better.

So here I am, sitting in the lobby at Firestone getting my car worked on while I write on my laptop and watch the History Channel. It’s REALLY difficult to write, because today’s History Channel is actually good. That’s right, no Storage Wars or Ice Road Truckers, but a special on Sun Tzu’s Art of War and how his principles would have applied to famous battles and wars. (Watching WWII and the Civil War broken down with Sun Tzu’s perspective is super fascinating.

Oh, and THE MECHANICS ARE SINGING. How I find myself in these situations even surprises me sometimes.

…Oh wait, Sun Tzu is over. Aw man, not Pawn Stars.


Why, History Channel, WHY?

Oh thank goodness, the car’s ready.

Fast forward several hours and getting back on topic, I thought I’d bring up some of the fun things that have happened since I started the job. Things that happened so far:

  • I got my first angry patrons. Nothing too outrageous, but it’s amazing to see how hard people will fight for $1.25. Your account isn’t blocked until you hit $10, ma’am, you could go your whole life never paying that $1.25 and be just fine. However, I know how important $1.25 can be.
  • I got invited to our new crochet class and learned to crochet. I’ve started on making a scarf!Crochet
  • A patron died in our parking lot. There I was, just sitting there knitting my scarf when a staff member comes in to tell me that there may be a dead man in his car out in the parking lot. Police get called, we take a gander and peek in through the tinted windows, try to wake the man up by knocking on the windows, and wave the cops down when they arrive. Cops open the door, confirm our worst fears with the simple words, “…yeah, this guy’s dead.”, and then proceed to crime scene the area off. Then come the questions, the rubberneckers, and all that lovely crime scene jazz. From what I’ve heard, the man had a heart attack but don’t quote me on that.
  • I wrote the schedule for my staff. During my last stint as a manager, scheduling was very cut-and-dry. 8:30 – 5:00 Monday through Friday, with occasional Saturdays, end of story. With circulation, everybody has a different schedule every week and many people are very picky. Carol is out of town this weekend, Maggie only works Tuesday and Thursday nights, Glenn usually works ABC hours, but can only work XYZ hours because he’s in school now, Darryl works exactly 31 hours per week, and so on. (Names have been changed to protect the innocent. Yes, I chose characters from The Walking Dead.)
  • I cleaned out my office. Normally, I wouldn’t put this on the list, but I feel like I’ve been exorcising the ghosts of managers past as I get settled in my new office. Calendars from 2011, ILS reports from an ILS we haven’t had in years, patron reports from 2002, and more.
  • I learned that who you trust changes when you become a manager. My first week on the job, I was walking by an old reference co-worker and said, “Hey, how’s it going?”…to which she responded, “How’s it going, TRAITOR?”.

    Right to the gut.

    I know she was joking, but the sentiment about department warfare is certainly real. Circulation, reference, technical services, children’s department, we’re all little fiefdoms with certain loyalties. I know my new staff is still getting to trust me, and I know that my old reference crew looks at me differently – as one of those “circ guys”. Add in the manager part, and people change the way they speak. No guys, I’m not a narc. No, I’m not wearing a mic under my shirt to bust you.

…And this was all by my 8th day on the job. I’m dying to know what’s going to happen by day 16.

Managers! Got any fun stories you’d like to share? Comment here or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and they can be included in the next library jobs post!

Brash Librarian, Justin Brasher

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