Work

Money Versus Happiness

When we’re younger, we are always told we can be whatever we want to be. You usually don’t hear young boys and girls list jobs like accountant, secretary, plumber, or retail manager. (I’m not knocking those jobs but they just aren’t as exciting as ballerina, superhero, or movie star.)

When you’re younger, you don’t envision yourself sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Even as old as college, this usually isn’t what we envision for ourselves.

We imagine that we’re going to have exciting jobs. Our passions will turn into careers. And these careers will provide us with enough money to travel, buy a home, and eat out to dinner whenever we want.

Somewhere along the way, usually when we spend months after graduation sending out our resume to every business within 100 miles of us, we realize that our passion does not always lead to money. We’re not all going to make it as YouTube stars reviewing cookies for a living. (I’m not hip to the latest YouTubers so I’m not sure if this is actually a thing but I wouldn’t be surprised.)

While the 9-5 jobs aren’t glamorous, they have their benefits. They provide a steady paycheck and health benefits. If you’re lucky, you may even land a job that will automatically set you up with a 401K or some other retirement fund.

I spent one long weekend in the summer going on 5 interviews in New Hampshire and Vermont. I was desperate to leave my current position. I spend at least an hour in traffic each way. I like less than half the people I work with. And I am not a huge fan of the patrons who frequent my library. There are a few nice ones but most are rude.

I wanted to get out of my current job and get out of New York City.

I had a goal in mind. I wanted to be the director of a small branch somewhere up in the mountains. I’d live in a small town where everyone knew each other and I could spend my weekends hiking and going to the local farm. Basically, I wanted the complete opposite of New York. I wasn’t happy where I was so I was determined to make a change.

I started applying for jobs in New England and soon began getting call backs. I was lucky enough to squeeze several interviews in a short span of time.

My last interview of a very long weekend was at this little branch in the middle of nowhere in Vermont. It was for a library director position and if hired, I’d be the only full-time employee. The rest of the library consisted of part-timers and volunteers.

When I was in library school, this library was where I imagined working. It was a small town. (I’m talking population of less than 5,000.) I would be the sole person in charge of this little library that needed a lot of help. The Trustees were working on a plan to expand the library and bring it to the 21st century. The library needed a lot of help. The bathroom was in the basement and the only way to get there was down very steep steps. No elevator. And there was no access to the building except for several steps leading to the front entrance. No ramp.

There were a whole slew of people in the town who couldn’t use the library simply because they had no way of entering. I instantly fell in love with the little town and the adorable old ladies who interviewed me. I was ready to take on the task of rebuilding this library.

So I was elated when they called me the day after the interview to offer me the job. Here was my chance to fulfill all my librarian goals. This  was what I went to school for.

Then I was given the full offer and my heart dropped.

You can imagine a library that cannot even afford a ramp does not have much of a budget. I knew that the salary wasn’t going to be great, I just wasn’t expecting it to be so bad.

They offered me $30,000/year with no health benefits and 5 sick days to kick in once I was working for a year. I knew it wasn’t them being cheap. They were offering me everything they possibly could, but sadly, it wasn’t enough.

I knew I would have been happy there. I definitely would have enjoyed that job a lot more than the library I work for now. And I would have loved working in rural Vermont much more than Brooklyn.

But in this case, I had to choose money over happiness. Sure the cost of housing is cheaper in Vermont than Brooklyn but not much else would be less. I’d still have to eat every day and pay my student loans every month. And now I’d have to add an additional bill of health insurance since the job didn’t cover it.

I had to reluctantly turn down the offer. I still haven’t given up hope that I’ll find my dream little library. I’m just hoping to find one that’s slightly better funded.

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Five Months of Being a Librarian

Yesterday I celebrated my graduation. I technically graduated way back in December of 2015, which feels like ages ago, but the ceremony was yesterday. Since I skipped my graduation for my Bachelor’s, I decided to attend this one.

It was mostly a bunch of nonsense. People are still spewing those same you-can-do-it speeches that we all know are bullshit. But I am still glad that I went. It was nice to see all my old classmates and to celebrate one last time one of the best decisions I ever made.

It took me awhile to decide to go back to school. I wasn’t anywhere close to paying off my student loans and the thought of adding on even more debt, made me want to puke. But I knew I wasn’t happy with my current job and needed a change. Books and libraries always fascinated me. Somehow I just knew it was a career I would love. So after doing some research, I took the plunge and went back to school. It was incredibly hard. There were a few times I genuinely did not think I would make it out alive. And I doubled my student loans, but it’s a decision I will never regret.

Going back to school and getting my Master’s in Library and Information Science led me to the best job I’ve ever had. I am one of those rare, lucky people who gets to say she loves her job.

It’s been nearly five months now that I’ve been a public librarian. It’s been a ton of fun and really interesting. Here are some of the things I’ve discovered about being a librarian in just the five short months I’ve been one.

Guys are super creepy about the whole librarian thing – Guys are really serious about this whole “sexy librarian” thing. Dudes, the comments when you find out what I do for a living are not necessary.

The patrons can be really creepy as well – Confidence low? Just become a female librarian and sit at the information desk. I’ve never been hit on more than I have while working as a librarian. Most of the times it’s sweet and someone just giving me a quick compliment, but sometimes it gets really uncomfortable. There is one patron that we all refer to as my stalker. (I could write a whole post just about him.)

I do not care that you haven’t been to a library in ten years and that you never read – When someone finds out what I do for a living, there are two things they tell me: how long it’s been since they’ve been to a library and the last time they read a book.

There are a lot of characters who come to the library – Dealing with the public in general can be an interesting experience but the characters who come to the library take the cake. Five months. It’s only been five months working at a public library and I can already write a book about the people I’ve dealt with. The crazies are inevitable. Free WiFi, free A/C, and no one will kick you out no matter how long you stay. Combine those three things and naturally you’ll have a lot of people flocking to the library.

But overall I love my patrons – I assume every public library has their regulars. The branch I work for is no different. But I have to say that my branch has some of the best regulars, even when you factor in those crazies I was just speaking about. I’ve already developed my favorites and will be so sad to leave some of these people behind if and when I move somewhere else.

The kids are the greatest – The adults can be fine and I genuinely enjoy helping them but nothing beats the kids. I love the kids at my library. They are adorable and so hilarious. And absolutely nothing makes me happier than when I see them getting excited about a book.

I do not spend all day reading and telling people to be quiet – People have this impression that working at a library is a peaceful job. They think I sit all day in silence, surrounded by books, and reading. I may spend all day surrounded by books but nothing else about that description is accurate. I’ve gotten less reading done since I started my job because there is always something I need to do. And you will never catch me telling a patron to be quiet. I encourage noise at my library.

People assume librarians have the answer to everything – The questions I get go far beyond the simple, “Do you have this book?” In fact, the majority of the questions I get have nothing to do with books. People want to know how to get an ID. How to find a job. The travel directions from point A to point B. Travel directions are a big one. One lady came in wanting me to plan her entire itinerary for when she travels to the Poconos.

I will never give up trying to find an answer to your question – But no matter how asinine a question is, I will do whatever I can to get you an answer. And even if I personally don’t know the answer, I will make sure I find someone else you can contact who should hopefully be able to get you an answer.

I use Google A LOT – Here’s a secret that no librarian would care to admit: We use Google and we use it a lot!

Teens are damn near impossible to please – My official title at work is Young Adult Senior Librarian. This means that I’m in charge of maintaining the YA books and also coming up with programs for the teenagers. I’m completely fine with the first part but the second part I’ve essentially given up on. Teenagers are not interested in attending programs at the library. Shocking, I know. Connecting with them in general is a challenge. I’ve finally gotten to the point where they take their headphones off when I talk to them. So baby steps.

It’s the most rewarding job I’ve ever had – A few weeks ago, a ballpark by the library was having a job fair. We had a ton of people coming to the library that day to use the computers so they can put together and print out their resumes. I spent the majority of the day making library cards for people and helping them figure out how to use the computer. Before the day was over, a few people came back into the library to personally thank the staff for our help and to let us know that they got a job at the fair. My first month of working, I was helping a mom and her 6-year-old daughter find books about kids from around the world. After some research and browsing, I found a book that the child wanted to take home. I went back to my desk and two minutes later the little girl came behind the desk to give me a hug because she was so excited about her book. As cheesy as this sounds, the thing I love most about being a librarian is that I really feel like I’m helping people. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.