Executive Librarian in a Rural Public Library

Click on the image below to see my Day in the Life of an Executive Librarian slideshow. Below is my reflection and bibliography.

If I was given the choice my preferred career path when I graduate from the MLIS would be to work in a public library. Public libraries provide open democratic access to information, support lifelong learning, provide community cultural spaces and are agents of social and cultural inclusion. I spend a lot of time in my local library and think it offers fantastic services for so many age groups so I decided to interview and shadow the Executive Librarian of Birr Public Library for my Day in the Life Project.

While interviewing and shadowing the Executive Librarian of my local public library I realised just how important the public library is for such a wide range of people. The Executive Librarian made every effort to engage the elderly patrons in conversation as she informed me that the library is one of the last services where you can expect such engagement. For many elderly people living alone such interactions may be the only social interactions they may have in the day and a service like this cannot be quantified. The local schools were on midterm break that day so there were lots of parents and children coming in and Martina made sure to talk to them all and make recommendations  for books and dvds they might like. She founded the hugely successful Reading Initiative, in which all local schools participate. Students are held responsible for their own log which is stamped whenever they take out a book. The aim is to read 50 books in the year and the children are given a certificate once it is completed. This encourages the children to interact with the librarian and hopes to foster in them a lifelong love of reading.

Martina informed me that for her the most attractive element of the job is the diversity. In a public library no day is the same and there are numerous opportunities to initiate projects to engage the community. She is personally interested in youth services in particular and has hosted many events for children based on her own personal interests such as science, film and reading. She encourages her team to do the same which brings to the library programs which focus on arts and crafts, genealogy and local history. This opportunity to be creative and to work to include all members of the public greatly appeals to me. With limited budgets though most projects must be carried out with the resources at hand. Maritna informed me that when deciding on collection development there are difficult decisions to be made such as whether to buy in the new popular books or to expand a particular collection. The best way to do this is to get to know the community and what they want.

Martina stressed that the role of Executive Librarian is, like all jobs, what you make it. She said that you must be able to work on your own initiative and to work on projects that you are interested in. This was very useful advice as while it might be some time before I can work in a public library, I can still make an effort in whatever role I end up working in to engage with the community and work with the library community to provide them with the services they want.


  • Branching Out – Future Directions, Environment, Heritage and Local Government, The Stationary Office, Dublin 2008 Available at http://bit.ly/IyObZN  (accessed 20/04/2012)
  • Offaly Library Annual Report 2011  http://bit.ly/JI8P9v
  • http://www.environ.ie/en/LocalGovernment/PublicLibraries/
  • Public Libraries Overview Available at http://bit.ly/JpG6qs  (accessed 20/04/2012)
  • Job advertisements for Executive Librarian available at: http://bit.ly/IbeM0z  and http://bit.ly/IdWOLh

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