But it's not all wine and roses folks. When people hear 'librarian', they think 'easy job'. Or 'nice job'. Well let's go through some misconceptions I've heard about being a school librarian and take them apart one by one:
Myth: You get to do nice things like buy/read books, arrange author visits and run reading groups all day
Reality: You only get to do that sort of thing about 5% of the time. The rest of the time is taken up with things like: cataloguing, paperwork, paying invoices, creating displays, attending boring meetings, planning and leading informations skills based lessons, sorting out subscriptions, dealing with requests from teachers (ranging from putting together book boxes to full blown lesson plans), telling kids off, fixing minor IT issues, doing reprographics stuff, maintaining the library and other subject pages on the schools wildly non-intuitive VLE, chasing up overdue books/other library items, dealing with kids who are in floods of tears, helping kids with homework and research, the mundane things like shelving and issuing/returning...and you usually have to do all of the above whilst being interrupted every two minutes with everything from requests to show where a book is to borrowing a stapler.
Myth: The library is regarded as the true information centre in the school
Reality: It's possible, but to start with, no one will think about the role you play in giving kids lifelong, independent learning skills. Teachers, and pupils, think you just sit around stamping books all day. True, this does make it easy to please them when you do something rather easy like, say, produce a reading list for a Year 13 Engish literature module. But rarely will the true extent of your expertise be tapped in to of a teacher's own accord. They're all too 'busy' to realise that a lot of staff, never mind students, are unclear over what plagiarism is, or that kids are relying on Wikipedia for their homework assignments. You have to get on their nerves, almost, by showing them how you can help to make their teaching lives easier...
Me "hard at work" (I'm the one in the white shirt, obviously)
Myth: Only the nice kids come in to the library at break and lunchtimes
Reality: Nope. You're just as likely to have to break up a fight as you are to get a keen reader ask when the next Robert Muchamore is out. Even in a nice independent school like my one the clientele regularly comprises a bunch of slackers who use it as a social area.
Myth: You are the "beating heart of the school" (copyright Anthony Horowitz)
Reality: You should be the beating heart of the school. But the status of most school librarians (support staff, often line managed by the bursar) hardly reflects this. Only a select few are heads of department, as you should be if you are in charge of resourcing the curriculum, leading information literacy, and leading reading for pleasure across the whole school. Attend a parents evening and no parent will want to talk to you, instead worried about how their little darling is doing in the classroom. You will probably see SLT about once a term. Certain teachers you'll never see at all. Once again, you have to fight to get noticed.
Myth: It pays well
Reality: Actually, that's not a myth at all. We all know it doesn't pay well.
So there we have it. It's not an idyllic job. It's a stimulating and important job...but it can also be a dispiriting, frustrating and boring job too. It's a sad fact that, in this day and age, we have to constantly justify our very existence, but that's how it is. Anyway, this isn't one of those impassioned advocacy for libraries post (see this post for that). I'm no Nikki Heath, or Anne-Marie Tarter, or one of the other school librarian of the year types who do heroic deeds every day. I'm just a guy who likes what I do, and likes to think I'm not bad at doing it. I just wanted to put to bed a few ideas that it's a 'nice, easy' job.