Book It to the Reserve Desk: An Interview with Logan Pettinato, Public Services Student Specialist

Logan Pettinato, currently a Freshman at Bates College, has been working as a Public Services Student Specialist for the past year at Ladd Library. Logan found the position by exploring the online listings of on-campus job opportunities offered by the Student Employment Office through the Bates website. “This was my first paid job,” says Logan, “which made the experience all the more exciting.”

Logan was most interested in the Public Services Student Specialist position because he had worked in the library at his high school and had experience dealing with shelving tasks and library organization. “I also wanted a job where I could work with people and the public,” adds Logan, “ Or one with a broad range of responsibilities to make the experience as diverse and interesting as possible.” Beyond that, Logan finds the working environment at Ladd Library to be a wonderful one, so he was eager to apply for positions related to Information and Library Services. “The application process was straightforward” Logan remembers, “I simply found the position of interest, sent in my resume, and went for a brief interview.”

The tasks for Logan’s position include any and all tasks associated with looking after the daily operations of the library and the needs of patrons. A typical shift for Logan at the library begins at 8:00 am on a weekday, where he works for a total of 6 hours a week. Once Logan arrives at the circulation desk, he tends to the photocopiers in the writing center, as well as the printers in staff area of the library, inspecting for jams and cleaning the glass surfaces of the copiers. “Once finished, I then spend time gathering the books throughout the library for patrons who have placed orders through NExpress, Mainecat, or Interlibrary Loan, all of which are programs that exchange books between our library and other libraries in our region. Despite the tasks of shelving or sorting, my primary responsibility is looking after Bates’ extensive course reserve system, where students may borrow textbooks from the library for their courses.”

As one can imagine, the reserve desk is often quite busy when exams are imminent, and less busy at the slower times of the semester. However, Logan states that “all of us who work at the library realize that each of our own efforts affects the efforts and jobs of other employees. For example, I take care to assemble shelving carts because other workers may wind up shelving the books that I have organized. While most student workers do not interact directly when working (for each shift only requires one student at a time), our interactions can best be seen in the way that our efforts during each of our shifts impact the shifts of our co-workers.”

When asked if he had encountered any funny situations while working at his job, Logan replied that there were “no funny stories in particular, but students and professors alike always try to be clever when giving excuses for late books or lost/damaged inventory. Because students may not renew course reserves, occasionally a desperate student will sit and wait in front of the reserve desk until a student returns the course reserve they need. On another note, because all library books will set off the alarm unless checked-out, occasionally someone will walk out with a book, magnet, or other device and unexpectedly trigger the alarm. It can be challenging and sometimes amusing when the patron and I cannot determine which of their items sets off the alarm at the front entrance.”

Logan’s favorite part of the job is that he can read or work on his own academic obligations if library traffic is low and other tasks have been completed. “Perhaps one perk” Logan adds, “is that with the position comes greater access to library books and a greater ease of finding titles that have ‘disappeared’ from the shelves, perhaps waiting behind the desk at circulation.” While many of the skills such as shelf-reading and working with library circulation software are library-specific, “skills such as helping patrons navigate the library, tend to various issues, and answer their questions helps me refine my skills related to working with the public, problem solving, and even critical thinking” say Pettinato. “Organizing shelves requires an academic-like level of on-the-job reasoning or logic, while negotiating with patrons about library policy or due dates demands a level of interpersonal skills that make this position anything but mundane.”

From this job, Logan has learned that he enjoys a highly organized and structured working environment like that of Ladd, but that he also “craves the level of variety that can punctuate the daily happenings in the library while I am manning the front desk. In the working world beyond the circle of academia, the same dichotomous nature pervades nearly all sectors of employment: a level of organization and structure juxtaposed with a level of unpredictability and spontaneity.