Helpful Library Habits for the Traveling Librarian

By Nyla Davis-Valencia

As part of my job, I have traveled to one of fourteen locations, with completely different policies and procedures. Things like the cost of printing vary from place to place. Often, I become confused about which location I am working at or what procedure to follow. Recently I read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and it reminded me of the fact that working in the library, there are many tasks that are routine or habitual. Habits are things that we do frequently and repeatedly without thinking about it. Due to the fact that I work at various locations, I have to be careful about what habits I form.

Pinal County
Pinal County

For staff like me who constantly travel, new employees, or just an employee having a long day there are some key tools that help.

Color coding
Having notebooks of different colors with each color representing a different location or task is helpful. The colors are a trigger that helps me identify different tasks.

Labels
Being able to see any type of label, especially examples posted in front me, helps jog my memory.

Patient staff and a friendly work culture
A colleague saying “don’t forget to take the DVDs out of the case” or “just a reminder to please follow these steps” in a friendly tone can be helpful. I appreciate colleagues that are willing to help me and willing to answer questions repeatedly because I may have forgotten.

Notes
I look at posters on the wall to recall information. For instance, each copy machine is usually labeled with the cost so I don’t have to remember several different prices.

Also, I create notes for each location. Sometimes the patrons ask why I am reading a sheet of paper but they are very understanding when I explain that I travel and thus forget things. Having notes with specific steps for a task that varies from place to place helps me follow the routine for the location that I am at currently.

Sometimes I use post it notes to remind me to do something and stick them on a computer or some place that I will see or touch.

Review
Sometimes I walk around the library and try to refresh my memory of where things are before I work at the circulation desk and have a flurry of questions about the location of things in the library. I review my notes on procedures before the library opens, just to refresh my memory about the location that I am working at.

Organization
At the circulation desk we usually store things in a certain place. Each staff member knows to look for and store things in the same place for the next person. For example, there is one location for library cards that everyone uses to create a new library card.

Habits can be very useful in helping us do things automatically without much thought. It is even better to have tools that help trigger our thoughts so that we use the right habit in the right place.

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