We had a visit today from a higher-up who was there to observe our reference services in action, by which I mean he hung out with us at the information desk and watched us answer questions.  It was a very unusual experience, in part because we didn’t fully understand the reasons that he was there and because we were worried about the potential consequences of this visit.  He seemed friendly and pleasant and harmless, but you never know.   He spent a lot of time talking to us — go figure, this was the one day that we were full-staffed and most of our patrons were quiet and self-sufficient.  I wonder if I talked too much.  Or perhaps I didn’t talk enough.

Even though we had eight librarians at our peak and now we have five, we’re still better off than many other libraries in our system.   More and more, when a librarian transfers to another branch or quits, the person is not replaced.  Whichever staff are left in the branch have to pick up the slack.  Sometimes they’re librarians (who have MLS degrees), but often the responsibilities fall to librarian trainees (who are currently enrolled in library school getting an MLS degree), or information assistants (who have completed a bachelor’s degree in any subject) or clerical staff (who have high school or perhaps college degrees).  And all of those salaries reflect a staff member’s seniority and level of education.  So from a dollars-and-cents perspective, it’s an obvious decision.  Why bother hiring someone for over $50,000 a year when you can ask someone else to do the same job for half the price?

It does make me feel like an endangered species.

It does make me nervous when higher-ups come to observe us.

Especially when we have five librarians while other branches have none.

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