Have you ever wondered what it takes to get your book from the dropbox to the shelf? Or how exactly the books are categorized? Is it alphabetical or numerical? Does the library offer more than just books? These are the questions I had as a patron of the library and now that I am an employee I am privy to all the knowledge and magic that is behind each book, DVD, audiobook, CD, and beyond. I am a new hire at the Grand Forks Public Library and I can honestly say I love my job.
I was a regular patron before I was hired to work with Information Services. Previously to my employment I would come in at minimum once a week with my daughter and sometimes alone on the weekends for a little peace and quiet. I would walk up and down each aisle scanning the titles spending a particularly generous amount of time in the non-fiction Cookbooks or Arts sections. Of course, at that time I noticed the numbers and letters that were on each book spine, but little did I know the complexity and simplicity of those numbers and letters. As I have worked and trained these past weeks I have learned that each represents selected genres, authors, and titles. These categories direct the patron to specific shelf placement and book location. I vaguely understood this system as a patron but find it to be fascinating as an employee. I also have learned the act of ‘Shelf Reading’ which is a task that assigns sections to staff members as a way to ensure books are shelved properly as well as an act to maintain visual and aesthetic order. I am a person who finds joy in the details and loves organization. The portion of my job that has me organizing and shelving books both soothes me and brings me joy.
I have also come to understand and appreciate that the library is so much more than the books, though those are important. It is a haven for those looking for a warm or cozy spot during the day. A place where the internet is free and access is for everyone. The library is not just a place to check out books but a place to congregate and experience the community (following safe guidelines with COVID in mind, of course). The GFPL has programs for children and adults that include story time, book clubs, and community outreach. Everyday I come into work I learn a little more about the mysteries of the Library. I am on the inside seeing the mechanics of how it all works and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of a team that puts people and knowledge first. My love for books is steadfast but I have found that my love of the library has grown and I can’t wait to see what is in store for me next.
Bridgette Hutchens is a MN native who settled down in Grand Forks with her husband Dan, four-year-old daughter Zoey, and two dogs Laverne and Lady. She is an artist, yogi, coffee fanatic, and book lover.