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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

What do I do?

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, November 4, 2012

Over my 30 years with the library, I have fielded the question “what do you do at the library” several times.


It is typically an honest question from someone desiring more knowledge of the library, or someone wanting to know the difference between “Director” and “Librarian.”


I am the Director of the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County, and am hired and work for the Board of Library Trustees.


Within that position, I am the chief administrator of the library system overseeing the operation of our seven buildings and the 65 employees of the system.


I serve as the spokesperson for the library system, speaking on behalf of the system.


The library system has daily responsibilities, as well as planning for long-term development and operations.


As Director, I am a problem-solver responsible for the successful operations of the libraries individually, as well as within the system.


There are physical issues relating to our buildings, in addition to operational issues and service issues connected to providing library service to the public.


I have a new task as of Nov. 2, 2010; that being the date of the approval of the library’s operating levy within Jefferson County.  I am responsible for seeing that those funds are used as approved by the public for providing the services promised as part of the levy.


At this point, the person asking what I do often has information-overload.  One person many years ago followed up and asked, “Is that a full-time job?”


I have always enjoyed my job, because every day is different, and brings new challenges whether it is the selection of a new book or trying to find what is wrong with a toilet.


The satisfaction of providing a great service to the public by working with wonderful staff is the mortar between the bricks that brings it all together.


The excitement of learning something new, or researching a topic for someone; added to mending a book so that someone else can enjoy it brings a variety of activities to any day.


The library community is a great place to work, and I have enjoyed associations with librarians across Ohio, all of whom are engaged in the same goal of providing service to the public.


Add the thrill of being able to obtain an Ohio Historic Marker for our library, or something to bring recognition to our area and the library, and I can count the smile on my face as a reason to be Director.


There are amusing incidents that happen at the library, like anyplace else in our lives, such as a recent occurrence involving myself.


I had taken home some old files to review and see what needed to be maintained for future reference, and returned them the next morning.  I found one binder of information that I wanted to keep, but the rest could be placed in the paper recycling bin in the library garage.


I lugged the pile of papers into the garage, and tossed them into the paper dumpster without thinking that the binder to be saved was on the top of the heap.


I scanned the paper dumpster and could see the binder, but the dumpster had been recently emptied so I couldn’t reach to the bottom to retrieve the file.  A shovel didn’t work, so I placed a stool from the garage next to the dumpster so I could climb inside to obtain the binder.


Once inside the nearly-empty dumpster, I bent over to grab the binder, and the dumpster began to slowly roll across the garage floor stopping in the center of the garage near a floor drain.


I was now standing in the dumpster, with no way of getting out, as the stool was several feet away.


Staff was beginning to arrive at work, and one staffer smiled and said good morning and walked into the building.  The second staff member looked at me in puzzlement, and said, “You are stuck in the dumpster, aren’t you?”  My response was “Yep.”


They placed the stool by the dumpster and smiled.  With the binder in hand, I exited the dumpster and said, “thank you.”


Add dumpster-diving to my list of duties.