My internship so far has presented me with multiple challenges and opportunities: working in the Roanoke City Law Library, assisting with major events, transcribing hundreds of Early Education surveys, as well as interacting with the public. However, none of these were as daunting as my first day working the Youth Services desk on my own. It was a Saturday afternoon, and I expected to be at the desk assisting as I’ve done a couple of times a week. When I arrived, I learned that the entire staff was either at a conference or at a branch assisting the branch managers. The Main library Youth Services department was left in the hands of work study students and interns, myself included. I had been in the Law Library all week so I was unaware of the conference. As I arrived, another intern was leaving and informed that the work study student of the day was at lunch and would return an hour later. For an hour, it was just me, the desk, and a fair amount of apprehension.
As I hadn’t manned the desk on my own before, I hadn’t had the opportunity to familiarize myself much with the system. Of course within ten minutes of my arrival, a call came in from a branch with a hold request for a book. So I had to not only answer the phone to represent the department, I had to use the system to find a book and see if we had it available. It doesn’t sound terribly difficult in theory, but in practice there was a tremendous amount of pressure for me to do it quickly and correctly. I ended up having to check fines, attempt to figure out the limit of fines before a user was restricted from checking out new books, logging users onto computers, and attempting to keep an eye on seven to ten small children who were running around without much supervision. Thankfully it all went smoothly for the most part, but it was quite eye opening and I learned that being a librarian is much harder than it appears.