Today's library workers frequently struggle to overcome stereotypical images of librarians from the past. While the public is finally becoming aware that library staff does not spend all day silently reading books and shushing people, the prevailing image of a librarian is one sitting behind a desk or a computer, working diligently. For example, in the classic children's books featuring the monkey Curious George, the librarians, while surprisingly tolerant of animal visitors in the library, are almost always sitting down.
Delta County Libraries staff members would like to quash that image, proving once and for all that sitting librarians represent a past era. In reality, library workers are constantly on their feet, shelving books, helping patrons, moving between printers and computers, presenting programs, and emptying book drops. Even in the Delta County administrative offices, where staff work behind desks a good deal of the day, many staff members prefer to keep to their feet at standing desks.
"We are both mentally and physically tired at the end of the day," explains Cedaredge Library manager Cara Morton. "But I would hesitate to trade it in, even for a job where I got to lie in bed all day."
Instead, staff members at Delta County Libraries are taking it one step further, challenging library patrons to track their movement over the course of next week (June 13-19) to see which group walks more per person, library staff or the public. The contest is part of Delta County Libraries' summer reading program, which focuses on health and fitness.
In order to participate, patrons need to sign up in any Delta County Library. The libraries are giving away free pedometers, while supplies last, so participants can track steps or mileage, although phone apps and other devices may also be used. Participants will record the total for each day of the week on a provided form, then they should submit their final numbers online or in person before July 1. Library staff will do the final calculations and declare the winning group in early July.
Families are encouraged to participate together and even challenge each other. However, the contest will focus on teens and adults, with a minimum age of 12.
"I don't feel like we'll have to go too far out of our way to get the miles for this contest," says Hotchkiss teen librarian Sarah Pope, who works at a standing desk when she is not interacting with patrons. "I am excited to see how far we actually walk each day."
Assistant district director LaDonna Gunn agrees. "I just want to warn our patrons," she laughs. "We will be tracking our steps in and out of the libraries, and many of us have pretty active lives in our free time. If you see me out running or hiking that week, you better try to keep up!"
Interested patrons should "book it" to the library to sign up right away. Library staff members clearly have something to prove this summer.