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Qualifications of Librarians Part 6


That portion of his responsible task which pertains to the arrangement and classification of books has been elsewhere treated. But there is required in addition, a faculty of arranging his time, so as to meet seasonably the multifarious drafts upon it. He should early learn not only the supreme value of moments, but how to make all the library hours fruitful of results. To this end the time should be apportioned with careful reference to each department of library service. One hour may be set for revising one kind of work of assistants; another for a different one; another for perusing sale catalogues, and marking desiderata to be looked up in the library catalogue; another for researches in aid of readers or correspondents; still another for answering letters on the many subjects about which librarians are constantly addressed; and still another for a survey of all the varied interests of the library and its frequenters, to see what features of the service need strengthening, what improvements can be made, what errors corrected, and how its general usefulness can be increased. So to apportion one's time as to get out of the day (which is all too short for what is to be done in it) the utmost of accomplishment is a problem requiring much skill, as well as the ability to profit by experience. One has always to be subject to interruptions and these must be allowed for, and in some way made up for. Remember, when you have lost valuable time with some visitor whose claims to your attention are paramount, that when tomorrow comes one should take up early the arrears of work postponed, and make progress with them, even though unable to finish them. Another suggestion; proper system in the management and control of one's time demands that none of it be absorbed by trifles or triflers; and so every librarian must indispensably know how to get rid of bores. One may almost always manage to effect this without giving offense, and at thee same time without wasting any time upon them, which is the one thing needful. The bore is commonly one who, having little or nothing to do, inflicts himself upon the busy persons of his acquaintance, and especially upon the ones whom he credits with knowing the most-to wit, the librarians. Receive him courteously, but keep on steadily at the work you are doing when he enters. If you are skilful, you can easily do two things at once, for example, answer your idler friend or your bore, and revise title cards, or mark a catalogue, or collate a book, or look up a quotation, "or write a letter, at the same time. Never lose your good humor, never say that your time is valuable, or that you are very busy; never hint at his going away; but never quit your work, answer questions cheerfully, and keep on, allowing nothing to take your eyes off your business. By and by he will take the hint, if not wholly pachydermatous, and go away of his own accord. By pursuing this course I have saved infinite time, and got rid of infinite bores, by one and the same process. The faculty of organizing one's work is essential, in order to efficiency and accomplishment. If you do not have a plan and adhere to it, if you let this, that, and the other person interrupt you with trifling gossip, or unnecessary requests, you will never get ahead of your work; on the contrary, your work will always get ahead of you. The same result will follow if you interrupt yourself, by yielding to the temptation of reading just a page or a paragraph of something that attracts your eye while at work. This dissipation of time, to say nothing of its unfair appropriation of what belongs to the library, defeats the prompt accomplishment of the work in hand, and fosters the evil habit of scattering your forces, in idleness and procrastination. It ought not to be needful to urge habits of neatness and the love of order upon candidates for places in libraries. How much a neat and carefully arranged shelf of books appeals to one's taste, I need not say, nor urge the point how much an orderly and neatly kept room, or desk, or table adds to one's comfort. The librarian who has the proper spirit of his calling should take pains to make the whole library look neat and attractive, to have a place for everything, and everything in its place. This, with adequate space existing, will be found easier than to have the books and other material scattered about in confusion, thus requiring much more time to find them when wanted. A slovenly-kept library is certain to provoke public criticism, and this always tells to the disadvantage of the librarian; while a neatly kept, carefully arranged collection of books is not only pleasing to the eye, but elicits favorable judgment from all visitors.



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