Spend a Day with a Library Worker: Library Services Floater Sierra McKenzie

When people hear the word “library” a few things typically come to mind; namely librarians and books. But a library is run by people working in many different roles. They’re all helping community members with much more than book recommendations. Our series Spend a Day with a Library Worker takes you inside the lives of our Library staff in different roles and follows them on a typical workday.

For Sierra McKenzie every day is different. It even starts at a different Branch Library. That’s part of the beauty of being a Library Services Floater—she gets to go wherever her help is needed most. 

“I don’t always start my day knowing which location(s) I’m helping. On days that floaters are unassigned, they report to a home location. At one point, my site was Blue Ash, but I'm now a ‘floating floater,’ so it will change every month or so depending on staffing levels—I'm currently spending most of my time at Avondale.” 

Once Sierra arrives, there are several daily tasks she performs no matter which Branch Library she’s working in. “I usually help with checking in holds that are delivered and shelving them in their respective locations, pulling requested items to be sent elsewhere, checking in materials from the previous day, and keeping up with emails,” said Sierra. “I usually spend at least two to three hours interacting with patrons at the circulation desk. I help with a variety of things from people looking for an item, technical assistance, to assisting children with homework and reading with them.” The rest of the time is spent in meetings or working with the various committees she's involved with. 

One of the best things about being a Library Services Floater is getting to work with so many different people across the Library system. “It can really put our Library in perspective and allows me to see how we operate across the county,” notes Sierra. “I have the privilege to work with and learn from nearly all my 800-plus coworkers at some point in time.” 

She loves the freedom the role allows her. “I love spending time at all of our branches, but I also love being involved in committees and projects,” said Sierra. “I am currently involved with the Staff Morale and Recognition team, the Black Events & Exhibits Committee, the annual African American Read-in, and the mock Coretta Scott King committee. Outside of our system, I'm one of the inaugural Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC) Equity Fellows, a member of ALSC's Public Awareness Committee, and its task force for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. In the past, I've helped plan the Girl Scout Overnight that we've hosted for the last two years (I make an excellent unicorn DJ), done a WVXU radio interview to promote Nnedi Okorafor's author visit, and presented with my Morale Ambassador team at the 2019 Ohio Library Convention. I've participated in many more exciting projects and groups thanks to the flexibility my job allows, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.”    

Sierra began her career at the Library at the Westwood Branch Library in her neighborhood when she was 16 years old. “I was hired as a student shelver […] and that served as my introduction to library work as a career,” said Sierra. “I never considered library work growing up or paid much attention to the people behind the desk. One of my biggest influences at the time was the Branch Manager, Kathy Bach. She took the time to explain potential career paths and allowed me to stretch my skills past the basic job description. She later hired me as a Senior Library Services Assistant, which doesn't often happen, but she believed that I could handle the responsibilities. After five years and two positions at Westwood, I became a floater.”

Sierra’s enthusiasm for her work is palpable. Her dedication to building a better future for Library staff and the communities they serve is contagious. “Honestly, the most challenging part of my job is saying ‘no’ to taking on more projects,” she said. “I always want to be doing more and improving things for myself and others, even if I can't spare the time.” 

Working at the Library really helped sparked Sierra’s interest in becoming more engaged with her surroundings, becoming an active member in her communities, and educating folks outside the Library about the amazing resources the Library has to offer beyond books and media. “Even when I’m not at work, I’m always connecting people to resources offered through the Library,” she said. 

To learn more about working at the Library and to see current job openings, visit our careers page.