Monday, January 7, 2013

Easy Street! The Stress-Free LibrariYAn Lifestyle

By now, if you know any librarians you've also probably seen the CNBC article about the "10 Least Stressful Jobs" in which librarian is ranked #9.  While I actually kind of agreed with the job description they laid out: "Your job is to help people use services as best as possible," I disagree (surprise, surprise!) that the most stressful thing a librarian faces is "teenagers with a paper due tomorrow and you don't have the books. It's really not your stress."  As any good librarian would, I take issue with this description on several accounts.

1. I would posit that rather than work stress coming from patrons with last minute research requests, most of the stress a librarian feels is in having so much to do and so little time.  Depending on the particulars of the position, librarians are planning semi-weekly if not daily programming for groups of children and/or adults, often planning said programs while sitting at a reference desk fielding seemingly endless random questions on demand as needed from a long line of patrons, working to manage a tight budget while meeting the needs of the community, fending off weird/annoying patrons and dealing with patrons who can't seem to follow policies about cell phone usage, internet usage, printing, reserving study rooms, etc., working with mentally ill and not-always-all-there seniors patrons who demand a lot of attention, and, yes, working to find materials for students who come in with ultra, mega, super important requests for school assignments at the last minute.

2.  Anyone who has been in a library in the past ten years wouldn't worry about the library not having "the books" needed for patron requests.  There are these things called databases and the internet.  Almost anything you need can be found there.  And librarians can teach patrons how to use them best!

3.  I feel like somehow the work of teachers and librarians is continually misunderstood, and I'm not sure why.  People seem to think that teachers assign busy work to their students and put their feet up and read the paper from 9am-3pm and then quickly rush home at the end of the school day, with nothing work-related to do all evening.  They also think that librarians sit in the library and read with occasion interruptions to help someone find a book, shelve books and/or check out books.  Neither of these is true.  And we all know that neither of them are true because we all went to school and received back graded papers and had teachers who stayed after school or came in early to tutor, help catch up absent students, go over a test, coach, chaperone, advise a club, etc.  and we all went to the school and public library as children and benefited from story time, information literacy lessons, book talks, research assistance, etc.  So how is it that people don't understand what teachers and librarians do?

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1 comment:

  1. I saw that article and decided not to read it, because I was afraid that "librarian" would be on their list. I'm sorry to have been proven right. :P

    Also, *every* field has its internal politics, and I bet non-librarians would be surprised that even "cute," "nice," etc librarians have theirs, too.