wyoming librarianship: a sample

This is one of those day-in-the-life posts. I don’t know if it’s a typical day, since I haven’t been here long enough to get a sense of what typical amounts to, but it’s one day in the life of a librarian in Meeteetse, Wyoming, population 351. Our library serves both the school (about 70 students in kindergarten through 12th grade) and the town. Aside from me, there’s one other full-time person, a part time page, and two people who work occasionally and fill in when someone’s sick or out of town.

5 am: Get up (yes, I know, I’m crazy), eat breakfast, listen to Morning Edition on one of the two public radio stations I can get here, do some offline writing, e-mail Jessamyn to ask for some advice on the digital photography class I’m planning for the library.

7:30ish: Arrive at library. We open at 7:45, fifteen minutes before the school day starts. Open doors, turn on lights, fire up our four public access computers and two staff computers. Check the circulation statistics for Tuesday: 98 circs–not too bad, though not as good as Thursday (when everyone gets their movies for the weekend), when we had 158. Not too shabby for such a small place, eh? Print out overdue slips to distribute to teachers, who in turn give them to students. My coworker, who does most of the youth services and school stuff at the library, gives me advice on what to do with the adult overdues: some people’s books we renew, some will be coming in today, so we wait to see what they want.

8ish: A few sixth-graders come in, and I check in some books, check out others, and renew a few more. Check e-mail and find extremely helpful message from Jessamyn, complete with handout attachments. Drop a line to my boss, the county library director, to remind her to check if there are any holds or rotating books (or DVDs, CDs, etc.) to bring down to us when she comes. She writes back to say sure and that she’s running a little late because her garage door was stuck and she didn’t want to drive her husband’s ’72 pickup the 32 miles to Meeteetse, especially in the snow. The yearbook adviser stops in to ask if she can have the yearbook staff meet in the library in the afternoon because their classroom is being used for testing. We say sure.

10 am: Friends of the Library quarterly meeting. About eight members show up. I get to meet the ones I haven’t met already, and we discuss Craig Johnson’s planned visit in May. He was here last year on tour for his last book, and the event was a big success. The owner of The Spoke Cafe (a Friend!) says they’ll be happy to host the event again, and another Friend volunteers to put up Craig, his wife, and their dogs again. I agree to do some publicity, and my boss (who arrived safely from Cody) says the county system can pitch in. I mention that I’ve been in touch with Craig and that he may do some programs at the other county libraries, but that we’re thinking the big, all-county event ought to be in Meeteetse, which people seem pretty happy about.

My boss updates us on the county commissioner’s meeting about the plans for the new Cody library, and we get to look at some drawings. Then we talk about the Cap Tax II campaign, which will, if passed by the voters, fund the new Cody library, a new swimming pool in Powell, and a refurbished swimming pool in Meeteetse (ours is currently unusable). Since taxes are never popular, no matter how small, short-term, or important, we talk about some ways to explain to people that this is really necessary. Get a quick overview of plans for the Cody library centennial celebration, which will kick off on May 9 (the 90th anniversary of Mabel Wilkinson opening the first Carnegie library in Cody; the library had been in another building for ten years before that).

11ish: Meet with my boss to get some details on things like county-wide book ordering. Learn that, in addition to a new telephone (the one at the front desk doesn’t work) and answering machine (we don’t currently have one at all), we’re going to be getting some new computers. Talk briefly about redesigning the library web site. We have a domain; now we’re looking for a host, because the county doesn’t want to do a lot of the stuff we might like to do. I heartily recommend LIShost. (No promises, Blake, but I’ll do my best!)

12 noon: Realize I’m going to have to wait till 1 pm, when the post office reopens, to get the mail. Eat lunch and read a few articles in Public Libraries and chat with my coworker about various stuff.

1 pm: Head down to the post office in the snow (!) to mail off a couple of ILL requests and fetch the day’s newspapers and mail.

afternoon: The yearbook adviser says they got their classroom back and won’t need to use the library. The second grade shows up to get books and movies and return others. Our library page finishes integrating the YA Accelerated Reader books in with the rest of the YA collection. (I’m all for separating collections to make for easier patron browsing, but not when doing so might mean engaging in prejudicial labeling.) Have an entertaining talk with staff and library patrons about Wyoming’s open container laws (or lack thereof–the legislature just failed once again to restrict open containers in cars–you can’t have one if you’re the driver, but everyone else is fine).

4 pm: Start to wind down for the day. We close at 4:15, though on Wednesdays we open again from 6-8 pm.

4:30: Head home, have a snack, work a little on this post, listen to the news, feed the cat.

6 pm: Go back to the school for the potluck supper/meeting of the Meeteetse Wellness Board. As part of my effort to put a librarian at every table (or at least at as many tables as possible), I’ve been going to various town meetings. This past weekend I joined the water committee of the BVCA Community Improvement District. I’ll be helping them do some research on finding ways to fund getting better water out here where we live (I live in an unincorporated area a little outside of town, and our well water isn’t potable). The Meeteetse Wellness Board does regular blood pressure and cholesterol tests for people in town, and this Saturday they’re having a fair. There will be people there to help you learn to put kids’ carseats in correctly, people from the hospital in Cody, local fitness guru types, and so on. I suggested that next year we could have a library table to help people learn about health reference sources, and they thought that would be cool.

7ish: Stop in to chat with the person staffing the library this evening. Head home. And here I am, finishing up this post. It was a pretty good day.

8 thoughts on “wyoming librarianship: a sample”

  1. It sounds like you’re really in your element out there. I’m so happy to hear that you’re off to a terrific start and are REALLY integrating yourself into the community. How exciting! I can’t wait to hear more about it (I was riveted to this post in spite of the fact that I should be getting ready for work!). BTW, VERY good idea with integrating the accelerated readers.

    I’ve always fantasized about going to Wyoming and now I actually have an excuse to go. 🙂

  2. Yeah, I’m all about getting rid of the AR section. Among other things, it’s way, way, way too confusing to shelve books by points and then alphabetically by title–I can never find anything there!

    I’m going to hold you too that “excuse to visit Wyoming” business, you know! 🙂

  3. I, too, was riveted to my screen! It’s all so, so engaged. Meetings here, tax advocacy there. Golly, but I’m jealous: employment sounds so affirming!

  4. Aw, I thought my eyes were about to well up with tears there for a minute! It’s all so enviable! A job, a community! Congrats, Laura; it sounds like you’ve got a sweet little life developing out there already. 🙂

  5. Welcome to the Wyoming library community! It’s so nice to see someone excited about being in Wyoming and being a librarian–all at the same time. Here’s hoping you are enjoying yourself. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I’ve been in the Wyoming library world for a few years and I’m a life-long Wyomingite, so I may be able to help. Good luck!

  6. Thanks (somewhat belatedly) for all the comments, congratulations, and welcomes. Wyoming librarianship, as it turns out, keeps one quite busy–last night was the school board meeting. About 20 people showed up (including some teachers)–still, not too shabby. More soon!

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