Other duties as assigned?

by Tiffany Newton, Head Editor, INALJ Missouri

Other duties as assigned?

DSC06058Almost every job description has this line. It’s usually near the bottom of the list of duties. It says “Other duties as assigned.” What does this mean? Well, pretty much whatever you and your employer agree that you should do. One thing I’ve learned about working in libraries is that the librarian should be flexible. These “other duties” will pop up all over the place.

I find that after I start the job I realize there’s a gap in current skills; one example would be that they don’t have a creative person to make bulletin board displays. I had this creativity, so I asked if I could make something. After that, I was just “stuck” with this duty. I don’t mind making bulletin boards, in fact, I quite enjoy it, and it helps out the library. Many of these other duties may fall into this category.
Some of the most common ones are:

  • Helping a colleague from another department while he works on a paper or presentation (This could include helping with the presentation or helping with his main duties)
  • Working in another department while they’re looking for someone to fill an empty position
  • Cleaning bathrooms, dusting shelves, watering plants, or shoveling snow
  • Adding paper to the printer, putting staples in the stapler, removing paper jams from the copier
  • Creating, ordering, and printing flyers to advertise an upcoming library event
  • Attending meetings
  • Helping prepare a plan for a building remodel
  •  Serving on a search committee to help fill a vacancy
  • Setting up library displays and exhibits
  • Selecting (or offering suggestions) e-books to purchase to load on the new library nooks
  • Designing t-shirts, magnets, or other merchandising items
  • Helping redesign an old library website
  • Reorganizing library collections, or moving them to a new location in the building: moving books, and moving shelves
  • Speaking to and translating for patrons who don’t speak English (this could be a spoken language or sign language)
  • Feeding the library cat, pushing her off your lap while trying to work, putting books back on the shelf after she pushes them off, etc.
  • Writing blog posts for the library blog, writing posts for Facebook and/or Twitter, taking photos to post on these social media networks, etc.
  • Assisting an older, less technology savvy colleague set up a social networking account so he can reconnect with his friends and family, and helping him daily to check for updates
  • Brainstorming with colleagues for ideas for a paper topic or presentation topic
  • Writing papers or presenting at conferences

Some of the non-library related things might be considered more of a favor than an actual duty because they’re generally one-time things. Some of these might be picking up milkshakes for everyone from Baskin Robins on your way back from lunch (Yes, this happened to me once), or helping a younger, less experienced colleague prepare a resume. In general, I think librarians are very giving and generous people who enjoy helping, so if someone asks a librarian to help with something or do a favor, the answer is generally yes. Just be aware of this and don’t overwork yourself! You want to have time for your main duties, instead of spending all your time on these “other duties as assigned.”

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list INALJ.com (formerly I Need a Library Job) and former CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of T160K.org, a crowdfunding platform focused on African patrimony, heritage and cultural projects. INALJ was founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard. Its social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ. INALJ has had over 21 Million page hits and helped many, many thousands of librarians find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in one month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this with many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro and many other publications in the past decade. She presents whenever she can, including serving on three panels at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Las Vegas; as breakout presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa; as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting; at the National Press Club in Washington DC; McGill University in Montreal, Canada; the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has been living and working in Budapest, Hungary and Western New York State. She spent years running her husband’s moving labor website, fixed and sold old houses and assisted her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food. She is preparing to re-enter the workforce and is job hunting. Her husband is now the co-editor of INALJ, a true support!  She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay.