A Librarian Lost in a Bookstore

So I know I haven’t blogged for 19 days. 19 days!! That’s forever! So I want to first apologize – but I swear I have a good excuse! I happened to get a job. Well, actually 2 jobs. Two part time seasonal jobs, and between those and schoolwork there’s a lot going on! But the especially interesting part of one these jobs is where I’m working – a bookstore.

Now I know a librarian working in a bookstore isn’t that unique, and I’m sure a lot of librarians have done it at one point or another. But I think I’m learning a bunch about myself along the way that I really didn’t know before. When I got the job, I was actually really excited. I get to work with books all day! Excellent. And in principle I have nothing against bookstores. My theory is that librarians are here to help patrons access information, whatever information they want. If people want to buy that information rather than getting it temporarily from the library, that’s their decision. I really have nothing against that, and let’s not lie – I’m just happy they’re reading!

But I think I care more about libraries versus bookstores than I realized.


Bookstores are corporations. They’re there to make money – and a huge part of that responsibility falls to me. The Sales Associate. I think what bothers me the most is that we have a whole script to go through with customers. For example, I can’t just say “Can I help you find anything” because then people can just say that they’re browsing. We can’t have people browsing on their own! (This isn’t a library, after all.) So I have to ask something like, “What brings you in today?” and when you say that you’re looking for a Christmas present I get to ask too many questions to try to sell you something you may or may not want.

In addition to that, we’re supposed to chat about the book that we’re trying to sell you. “Oh I loved that book!” Except don’t lie to the customers, so if you haven’t read it say something like, “My manager just read that and said it was amazing!” (Barring the fact that you have never spoken to a manager about any book in the store – I’m not entirely sure what their definition of a lie is…).

The whole script feel fake and forced. Two things I have never felt while working at a library. Conversations about books are so much more natural and relaxed in a library – simply because there’s no pressure. I want to stand around and talk about books all day, but a patron taking or not taking a book isn’t the end of the world – and it’s kind of their decision. There’s just not the same kind of pressure at a library as there is in a bookstore.

I guess what I discovered is that I miss the library. The good old library where it’s not about the money, it’s about the information. It’s about the storyline. It’s about exploring different types of books, and not caring because it’s free. I don’t think it’s my life’s dream to work at a bookstore – I guess I really am a librarian at heart.

One comment on “A Librarian Lost in a Bookstore

  1. Beautiful post! As much as I think I would really enjoy working in a bookstore, libraries will always have my heart too.

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