Last night, I found myself thinking of my job through uni here in Australia. It was the perfect job for a uni student. It paid good money — I was able to cover my rent and living expenses during uni. It was flexible. It gave me extra shifts occasionally. I was able to swap shifts to suit my exams. I was able to work evenings when I had placements and uni during the day and work Saturdays. It was close to where I lived. And it was in a place close to heaven.
It was at the uni library.
I worked for 3 years as a shelver. The job description involved putting the books back on the shelves according to the Dewey decimal system. Checking if the books were organised appropriately. Getting books out of shelves as requested by students if you were doing the first shift of the day. And cleaning and tidying up the library if you were doing the last shift of the day.
I still remember applying for the job. I filled out a form from a very strict looking librarian. And I was lucky enough to get offered 6 hours per week within the next few days. I say lucky because other international students attempted to apply for the job after hearing I worked there but were always on the long waiting list. I started with a mere 6 hours a week in my first semester in Australia. That went up to about 10 in the next. And by the end, I was doing 16 to 18 hours per week. The strict librarian turned out to be my immediate manager and she was great. As were the rest of the staff.
I absolutely loved the job. I was able to do Saturday shifts from my third semester as well as evening shifts. Which fit in perfectly with my schedule. I also loved the evening shifts because there were fewer students more often than not. Yes, it did involve cleaning up people’s crap in the final tidy-up but it was worth it. And mind you, I did all this listening to music on my MP3 player. There would occasionally be questions from students re where to find certain books. And you know what? By my second year, I knew the sections off the top of my head. I still remember them. Which is a bit scary. I knew the teaching books were in the 371s and 372s, the psychology books were in the 150s and the 616s and 618s, management in 658s, policing in 363 and 364s, sociology in the 300s and literature in the 800s. Scary that. Students would be amazed at my ‘skill’. I put it down to working there for a long time! The other bonus about the job was that I was able to find books for my assignments with ease. I remember checking out a book or two myself after most shifts. Definitely helped with my thesis!
It came with it’s weird stuff too. I got asked out by a dude one year and well, I wasn’t interested and said I had a boyfriend to put him off, but he kept insisting that he just wanted to go out for coffee as friends. Yes. And pigs will fly. I did manage to brush him off. Told him that not only did I have a boyfriend, I had a jealous boyfriend. =P There were always the annoying students who didn’t seem to realise that a library was a place you were supposed to be quiet! And would laugh loudly and make heaps of noise upstairs where there were fewer staff.
I don’t know why I started thinking about this job. Or why I became so nostalgic. I was so grateful for the work. It kept me going during uni. And given that it was the first time I was studying and working and living by myself, it was perfect.
I sometimes miss the simplicity of that job. And yet, being content with it.
I guess if psychology doesn’t work out as a career, I would consider working in a library (behind a desk though) or in a book store.
They are, after all, my definition of heaven.
Until next time,