The Page Position: Not as medieval as it sounds.

Three weeks ago, I began work at a local library as a page. A “page” is defined in the New Oxford American Dictionary as “a young person, usually in uniform, employed in a hotel or other establishment to run errands, open doors, etc.” 

Historically, pages worked for the royals and upper classes as errand-boys (or so authors like Tamora Pierce tell me).

In today’s society, the only time I hear about a “page” is at the library, which lends a certain distinction to the position, and bestows a peculiar air of mystery to the worker when asked by strangers what their day job is.

Duties of a Page

Every day, we are assigned activities to do on a hourly schedule.

“Carts”: Shelving books takes up the majority of our workload. Hundreds of items (books, audiobooks, DVDs, CDs, picture books, magazines) are returned daily and need to be re-shelved or packaged up to be sent to another branch. Once the item is checked in, they’re sorted by category (fiction, non-fiction, si-fi, mystery, western, child, teen, CD, DVD, audiobook) onto carts, which are then taken out to be distributed by author’s last name, first name; or by the Dewey Decimal System.

“Paging Slips”: A list of newly reserved items is printed out, with sometimes 100 items or more, and pages are sent out to find the item and bring it back, where a transfer slip is printed and tucked between the pages and they’re sorted into boxes.

“Shelf Read”: All pages are assigned a section to go through throughly to make sure all books are in the right order.

“Computer Monitor”: The true customer service part of the page job. The main attractions at my branch are the computers. However, not everybody knows how to use a computer. We aid patrons in sign-up and log-in, opening web browsers, finding the URL bar, printing, scanning, faxing, and so much more.

“Open” and “Close”: Unlocking doors, raising flags and taking them down, picking up the books randomly dispersed through the library, putting out the day’s newspapers, consolidating the twenty-something recycle bins into two, restarting computers, etc.

The two things I like best about working at the public library is the relatively relaxed environment (vs. say, a cafe), and how each day there is something new to work on, a different problem to solve, be it printer problems or calling the police in to deal with troublesome patrons. (Also, we get paid just under $10/hour, which is pretty sweet for the pre-college kid.)

Not to mention the multitude of books I end up checking out that I’ve found while shelving that just look too good to let go of.

If you’re looking for a job, apply to your local library. The U.S. has a great library system unlike anywhere else on the planet. Take advantage of it!