What do librarians actually do?
Librarians are often portrayed as gray-haired, be-speckled Scrooges, shushing the slightest sound. Even those with a more enlightened view rarely understand what it is we do.
The Garfield County Public Library District is made of six library branches, stretching from Parachute to Carbondale, and includes administrative offices located in the Rifle Branch Library. The district employs 34 full-time and 27 part-time library staff members.
So what, exactly, do these employees do every day?
"Every day is different, but mostly I help our awesome patrons in any way that I can," said Karen Klink, a library assistant at the Parachute Branch.
There are books to repair, DVDs to clean, story times to plan, reviews to read, books to order, courier deliveries to unload, books to shelve, money to count, holds to place, technology to learn, schedules to make, forms to file, publicity to create. And that is just the beginning.
While all employees are trained in the basics, we each have our specialties: Cassyashton Porter is the repairer at the New Castle Branch Library. Brenda Buchanan from the Gordon Cooper Branch declares, "I police the bulletin board."
Kelsy Been, grant coordinator, in addition to her fundraising efforts helps to coordinate district programming such as the upcoming Big Read.
Sometimes, though, programs are more spontaneous. Barb Miller, from Glenwood Springs, recalled, "I orchestrated a duct tape program for teens. They had a great time."
With four new buildings and two more on the way, the library district has been able to expand one of its biggest resources: providing free access to the Internet.
Melissa Colasinski from the Silt Branch Library notices she is spending more and more time helping patrons set up email and Facebook pages and learn to use Microsoft Word.
The library district recognizes that technology assistance is an important part of the service we provide, and has begun incorporating more programs to meet that need.
While librarians have risen to the technology challenge, we still are still in the book business.
Stephen Tafoya, the Fifth Element project coordinator at Rifle said, "I'm always searching for the next awesome YA book that I can share and recommend!"
Karol Sacca, Parachute Branch manager, said, "I know where the scary books are. I know where the best love stories are, too."
While books and technology comprise a large part of our work, we strive to be an invaluable part of each community we serve.
This community aspect means every day is different.
"Problem solving is fun!" said Dan Mickelson, Silt Branch manager. Librarians quickly learn to constantly adapt, taking on the role of investigator trying to track down books, or technician fixing library equipment, or guru answering the numerous reference questions we receive.
Carol Foreman, Rifle Branch manager, finds this constant change exciting.
"Lucky me. My job is to give my staff the freedom, skills and time to help patrons find the answers, information and skills they want or need to make their lives more meaningful," Foreman said.
Marilyn Murphy, Gordon Cooper Branch manager, has her own approach.
"I respond to whatever comes my way from patrons or co-workers and if everyone is happy, then I am happy," she said.
Essentially, librarians are about diversity. Some focus on the book aspect, while others focus on programs for kids, still others deal with the necessary administrative elements.
It all comes down to fulfilling our mission statement: "The Garfield County Public Library District seeks to create, promote and provide an environment of literacy, education, information and entertainment for everyone in our communities."
We are about serving our local community, and we hope that 2013 will be our best attempt yet.