FROM READERS: A librarian's work not limited to books

Friday, August 31, 2012 | 10:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:13 a.m. CDT, Friday, August 31, 2012
Lauren Williams has been a librarian at Daniel Boone Regional Library since 2010.

Lauren Williams has been a public services librarian for the Daniel Boone Regional Library since 2010 and is a self-described book maven and geek.

On any given workday, I might help set up an email account, demonstrate downloading an e-book and troubleshoot a printer problem. No, I'm not a member of the Geek Squad. I'm a librarian.

A great deal of my daily work involves technology, from managing a library blog and coding subject guides to helping patrons search our online databases, so I'm surprised by the number of people who assume I get to "sit around and talk about books all day."

Don't get me wrong. I do scan book-related websites and library journals, reading book reviews and ratings. I have a teetering pile of novels and parenting advice tomes on my nightstand, and perched on top is my iPad with several downloaded titles waiting for me to have a quiet moment to read a few chapters. At the Columbia Public Library's reference desk, I get asked for book recommendations fairly regularly, and as a co-chair of our community-wide reading program, One Read, I do get to talk an awful lot about books. 

However, the best part of my job is surprising and delighting patrons with the range of resources they can get with their library card. Any time a patron asks to see our Consumer Reports magazines or Value Line Investment Survey newsletters in print, I make sure they know we also provide full access to and Value Line online through the library's website, or "digital branch," as we like to call it. (Like our physical buildings, has everything from collections to staff, so it really functions as another library location.)

If they have Internet access, they can do all of that research at home in their pajamas. And yes, we have books on raising urban chickens! And going gluten-free, planning your wedding, repairing your car and writing a résumé. We also have that documentary you saw at the True/False Film Fest, as well as season one of "Downton Abbey" on DVD. 

My favorite question, however, is this: "How many items am I allowed to check out?" The answer? As many as you can carry.

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising Editor Joy Mayer.

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