So I started a second job recently, because my motto has always been “why have one job when you can have 2 or 3?” I’m fairly excited about this one because it’s another library job, and something that I’ve never done before, so it’ll look good on the old resume. My supervisor seems like a pretty rad lady, and I believe it will be quite fun.
First day of work, I show up promptly at 9am and get the lay of the land. Then my supervisor looks at me, “So they’re hiring at your other job? What do you know about that?”
I blinked, “I know there were four interviews yesterday, and that’s about it.”
“So, have they made any decisions, are there any candidates that they liked better than others?”
By this point, we were in the office, ready to do my HR form-filling-out, which I have never been so eager to undertake in my life, but I tried to be accommodating. “I really don’t know; I spoke to the director at lunch and she said that the interviews were going very well. That’s all I know.”
She pressed on, and all I could think was: this woman has seen my resume, she knows that I am in no way important at this other job. Certainly, I don’t make hiring decisions, and no one discusses potential employees with me. I was completely baffled, but kept repeating that I didn’t know anything until she finally let up.
Later that day, we were discussing my role at the library, which is kind of a big question mark at this point, and she told me “I was thinking that you’d do one night of family programming per month, and then have a teen book group—do you like teenagers?”
How does a person answer that? I have no contact with teenagers at all, and haven’t really since I was one. At the other library where I work, the average age of the members that come in, is probably 60. What 28-year-old who is not a high-school teacher, or teen librarian has any contact with teenagers? So I answered honestly, “I don’t know. I like books written for teens.”
By this point, I was starting to feel like a bit of a gimp, answering questions with “I don’t know” has never sat well with me, because I like to have answers, and can usually say something else. So I sent a follow-up email later that day regarding the teenager question that said something like, while I don’t have the occasion to hang out with teenagers, I don’t doubt that I can get along with them well.
Second day of work my boss informs me that she’s going to send me to one of the branch libraries for some more programming training. “How are you with transitions?” she asks.
“Transitions as far as what?”
“Just in general.”
Well, I moved to a state I’ve never visited, where I knew no one with only what fit in my car—so I’d say that I am good at transitions, but that seems a bit broad as relating to children’s and teen librarianship. Then I wondered if she just meant the transition of driving to a different building partway through the day. Then I realized that I had been paused for too long and any answer was better than just standing there slack-jawed, so I said, “good?”
In retrospect, I suppose I shouldn’t be so shocked that I’ve gotten a lot of strange questions at the public library because the last strange questions I got that stands out in my mind was at my interview for the public library I worked at before this one. They asked me if I belong to any clubs or organizations. I told then that I had in college and grad school, and then they asked if I still did. I was completely flummoxed. Is that something grown-ups do? What, like, Kiwanas or something? So I said no, and felt like a non-joining bench-sitter with deep-seated social issues that I didn’t ever realize were holding me back.
Maybe librarians just ask really weird questions. Maybe I do it too, or will do it soon enough. Maybe I’ll never understand it, but come up with some way to answer odd questions sounding intelligent and not at all confused. I really doubt it though.