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Lonely Librarian

I had my first experience of dread during an interview for a new calling at church. (Which we know that all good LDS should never have ;)

I had a split second waver of “Are you serious?”

I’ve been a early morning seminary teacher , a bishop’s wife at 25, in a Relief Society presidency (while husband was bishop of another ward) stake activities in amongst lower key ward missionary, newsletter editor, visiting teaching coordinator, Relief Society meetings committee.

But nothing has made me shake in my boots as much as:

Meetinghouse Librarian.

Holy moly.

Probably because there are still five more months left before Miss N starts nursery. This calling would be totally fine if my husband wasn’t in the bishopric. With other callings like seminary he was able to support me. But since I pretty much only see him on the stand and he is gone (to me) from 6:30am till 3pm ish each Sunday, I can’t expect too much of him.

So there will also be a mini librarian assistant. One to destroy what I am trying to tame.

As was evidenced of when she open and shut the swing door twenty million times, whacked the photocopier tray up and down, swiped a shelf of its contents, tipped over the bin, cried repeatedly to be let out, sucked on pens and scissors, opened the draws and tried to get hold of whiteboard markers, glue, stickytape. While looking around at Little Miss Tornado, the previous librarian—an 80 year old lady who was training me—said ‘I seriously doubt you’ll be able to do this.’

I wanted to burst into tears. 

I also thought that in my 30 years of church attendance I have never seen a ward librarian with young children. Always a first time I suppose?

I’m sure they figured since I often lose my kids, and rarely know where they are when I AM ACTIVELY LOOKING FOR THEM…. that If I am stuck in the library it won’t matter. Maybe the kids will now know atleast WHERE I WILL BE. So there’s no excuse for them to run off.

So when you are worried about something what do you do? You call your mother of course. Who will give it to you straight.

Oh darling! Being the Librarian IS EASY. Any simpleton can DO IT. You’ll be fine. Though I will say it is a very LONELY calling!!

So the whining, scared, question asking, why me??, grumbling person was put to rest with that comment.

The question should be, “what do I need to learn from this?”

I’ve been pondering.

  • I spent one of the most loneliest Sundays EVER. Stuck in the library with only the few who pass by with a nod or a wave. As a very social person this was almost devastating. This is good for me. I need some practice in solitude.
  • It’s been a while since I’ve used some well defined organisation skills. So organizing the library and paperwork and ordering I will.
  • My kids like to think they rule the church and can roam anywhere they want. So I can train my kids to turn up to the library and wait for me (lol).
  • I can provide the ward and new members with ALL the materials they will need for a happy life. :)
  • And lastly, Can I go shopping for a new wardrobe? pretty pretty please?
  • So I can channel my ‘hot librarian look.’

There’s gotta be some positives…right??

*wanders off to find some faux black rimmed glasses*

{ 13 comments… add one }

  • jks April 24, 2013, 10:07 pm

    Our library is only open during Sunday School. Perhaps you can implement reduced hours for your library. You are the librarian and so you can make these kinds of decisions!!!!

  • This girl loves to talk April 25, 2013, 12:43 am

    Im in australia and its usual to have to be in the library half hour before church begins, then during sunday school and 15 mins after church to get all supplies back and clean up and fill out photocopy paperwork. But yes i worked out ways to juggle it, and make peace with the calling ;)

  • DeeAnn April 25, 2013, 3:20 am

    In wards I have been in the library is only open before and after church and between classes- oh and on wed nights in one ward. But with a toddler what a challenge! I would love that calling, though! ( I don’t have a toddler:-) )

  • jennycherie April 25, 2013, 4:28 am

    It seems like this is a difficult calling for a lot of people. One of my friends was called as librarian and she struggles with it constantly. I think she feels like she has been stuck in a back room where she doesn’t see anyone and yet she also gets upset when people go in the library if she is not there. It can be one of those callings that is really isolating.
    jennycherie recently posted…Update on the HateMy Profile

  • Amy Lockhart April 25, 2013, 7:15 am

    I was in a ward where the library was the place to be. It was a regular party in there with 2 librarians and 1 assistant holding down the fort and at least a few others “getting materials” every time you walked by. You could often hear the chatter and laughter all the way down the hall. Perhaps you could lobby for an assistant or two and lure folks in with baked goods? Just a thought :)

    Seriously though, have you thought about asking someone to watch your little library tornado for you. There is probably someone that could feel useful running the halls with her.

    More often than the party scenario we have been in wards or branches where there are very limited library hours so the librarian can attend classes. May the force be with you!
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  • Alison Moore Smith April 25, 2013, 7:22 am

    A big welcome to Bonnie-Jean Comber. Glad to have you at Mormon Momma! :)

  • MB April 25, 2013, 8:48 am

    I’ve been a ward librarian. I did what others have mentioned: kept it open at the beginning and ending of class times but closed at other times. Posting the hours on the door helped people plan accordingly and gave me some time in class.

    I found the calling very social. I helped and talked to lots of people as they came looking for stuff. But I didn’t stay there by myself once they’d all gotten what they needed.

    Jennycherie articulates well the challenge of feeling responsible but not being there all the time and having people come in and mess things up or take things when you are not there. You have to let go of your sense of being responsible for accounting for everything or or any sense of maintaining a very high standard of order. Beverly Cleary (who was a librarian as well as an author) once pointed out that a good children’s librarian never refers to her part of the public library as “my or our part of the library”. It is, she said, the people’s library, and a librarian is simply there to help them. It is “their” library. And sometimes they mess up their library and break and tear and lose things. And a good librarian expects that will happen.

    Reading that helped me to avoid getting upset about things going missing or being stolen (yeah, we had burgleries caught on security cameras too), stuff moved around and filed wrong, people breaking things, coming in without a librarian, etc. etc. etc.

    That said, either arrange with your bishop to have your husband always available to hold your one year old while you are in the library (before and after classes and before and after church) or someone else to do so. There’s no way it can be done with a toddler unless the toddler is asleep in a backpack on your back. And for the first few months at least, longer if you like, if you can, get your husband to be with your little girl for a couple of hours in the middle of the week so you can spend time in the library at a time when no one needs anything from it, just so you can tidy up, orient yourself and organize to your hearts content without interruption. That makes the crazy Sunday stuff easier.

  • MB April 25, 2013, 10:11 am

    And yest, it is perfectly acceptable for a member of the bishopric to come down and sit with his little daughter before the closing prayer in sacrament meeting or for her to toddle up onto his lap, whichever the bishop prefers.

  • MB April 25, 2013, 10:12 am

    And yes, it is perfectly acceptable for a member of the bishopric to come down and sit with his little daughter before the closing prayer in sacrament meeting or for her to toddle up onto his lap, whichever the bishop prefers.

  • MB April 25, 2013, 10:12 am

    oops. sorry about the double post.

  • JrL April 25, 2013, 11:00 am

    It’s been a long time since I was a bishopric member responsible for the library. But I recall a couple of things.

    1. We were instructed that the library was NOT to be open during class time. Before church (until time to be seated–10 minutes before starting?), after church, maybe between classes, and some time during the week (usually on Mutual night). That still makes sense to me. Teachers should think in advance what they need and get it–maybe even on Mutual night rather than on Sunday?!

    2. One of the great values a librarian can bring to the ward is to know both the curriculum and the library well enough to offer materials in advance for lesons–that is, to be (though I still dislike the new-fangled term) proactive.

    But now days, I wonder…. Is the only real function of the librarian quickly becoming allocating the video equipment to be used with wifi to access Church materials on line?

  • Angie Gardner April 25, 2013, 4:33 pm

    Welcome, Bobbie Jean. Look forward to hearing more from you!

    I’ve never had this particular calling but I have had a few good friends who have. They thought it would be horrible and lonely when they were called, but they ended up really loving it! Our library is a pretty social place, and I’ve been in other wards where it is as well.

    I agree with setting hours and training your ward to prepare in advance so that you can have things ready. I’ve seen this work in different ways in different wards. I know in one, the Primary and the Sunday School provided each teacher with a few basic supplies (chalk, eraser, pencils, scissors and crayons for the little ones) in a little bag that they could keep with them every week so they didn’t have to get these things from the library. I also know a ward who had a sign up for things like pictures and such and you had to have your “order” for the next week to the librarian by mid-week and she would get orders ready while her kids were at mutual.

    With a husband in the bishopric, it’s hard – but I agree he may be able to help more than you think. When I was doing sharing time or something, he was usually able and happy to take the baby. In most wards we’ve been in, they have also encouraged bishopric members to attend classes wherever possible instead of using that time for interviews, issuing callings, etc. In reality that probably doesn’t happen very much but perhaps if you are working with the bishopric in that regard your husband could take the baby sometimes?

    We also had a sign up going around once for a lady who taught Primary and had a very active little boy not quite in nursery. One of the single sisters was happy to entertain him during Primary so that his mom can teach.

    I think you’ll end up loving it, although there can certainly be a learning curve with different callings.

    One other thing to keep in mind: As a member of the bishopric, your husband was in on this decision. Remind him of that and ask him for help – if not actually watching the baby at least helping you to find a solution. :)

  • Alison Moore Smith May 1, 2013, 12:07 am

    Welcome to Bobbie-Jean. :) Thanks for contributing!
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