There were a number of practical, on-the-job type things that we did not learn in Library School. We did not learn how to repair staplers. We did not learn how to navigate paper jams or troubleshoot WiFi on the millions of different devices that exist. We did not learn the fine art of disentangling oneself from a patron who single-mindedly keeps telling you about their Telstra woes, even when they can see the queue of people growing behind them.
And they did not tell us about the sickness.
The sickness! I don't have kids. This is evidently my first problem. My immune system has not been fortified by the varied and wondrous bugs and bacteria that kiddy-winks amass in their school years, happily sharing them with their folks. My immune system has, up to this point, sailed through adulthood free of the stress of a constant barrage of public illness (even though much of my previous career was spent working with hospitals). Ahhh but this time has come to an end. My immune system has received a rude shock.
I work in a very busy public library with a diverse, middle to low socio-economic community. There are a lot of people, and logic says there are going to be a lot of bugs. I am handling lots and lots of books that have been touched lots and lots of times (particularly kids books and junior fiction - our biggest movers). There are going to be LOTS of bugs. I am helping patrons with computers - touching keyboards and mice and printers that are used by numerous people all day, every day. There are GOING TO BE BUGS. There is no denying that at the end of each shift, you feel kind of grimy. Your hands feel like a city back alley that has trapped and concentrated the flotsam and detritus of the day. It is (let's be honest) a tad gross.
I can only assume that once I pass this "on-boarding" stage, I will develop an immune system of steel (well, this is what I hope!). You know how they say you should let your kids play in the dirt to train their immunity? Forget that. Take them to the public library and let them play with the books. For this we will offer you two educational experiences for the price of one - you can educate their minds with wonderful words, and educate their immune systems with bugs!