There’s something almost magical about libraries. Maybe it’s the silence or the incredible amount of knowledge, but the place certainly has a special vibe. And most of us spend too little time there to get to the bottom of it. Luckily, a librarian from Scotland named Mel (@grumpwitch) has decided to lift the veil off of these secrets, sharing some of the industry insights that she has learned on the job. (Facebook cover image: charlotte henard)

Image credits: Robert Gray

However, becoming a librarian wasn’t something she had planned. “I’ve had a lot of jobs over the years but I became quite unwell about five years ago and had to leave my product design engineering role and course,” Mel told Bored Panda. “I was gutted but I knew that recovery would take a while. I’ve always been a bookworm so I started looking for jobs in libraries and other environments to do part-time while I recovered.”

For the last two and a half years, Mel has been a library assistant and she hasn’t looked back ever since. “I love it so much that I hope I can keep working in libraries permanently.”

“I was waiting for the kettle to boil while I made dinner one evening and I’d been chatting with my colleague about the strange and random things we’d learned in this job,” she said. “So I started tweeting them out without any sort of thought about order or structure, just as they came to my head. I figured a few of my fellow library assistants would relate. If I’d known how big it would become, I’d have proofread them first!”


Image credits: grumpwitch

All things considered, Mel remains an optimist when it comes to the fate of libraries. She does, however, believe that some changes need to happen. “I think libraries need to be advertised. The world is so commercial and every brand is vying for people’s attention, especially on new technology that I think libraries miss out on being part of the conversation. They’re sometimes seen as a relic of the past and very few people realize just how much they do. We need advertising campaigns and reminders that libraries are still here.”

But there are obstacles libraries must overcome before they start investing in a brighter future. “Budget cuts are definitely the biggest threat,” Mel said. “Local councils and other bodies are having to stretch smaller budgets thinner and thinner and unfortunately, libraries often take the hit. It’s all the little things we need to do but can’t, like fix a broken piece of equipment or run classes with better materials that make us lose library users. If a printer stops working, people go somewhere else to print. If the children’s activities at a sports center are more involved because there are more staff on hand, people will take their children there instead.”


Luckily, there are thoughtful and dedicated people like Mel who, I believe, are the assets libraries need to treasure most.

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