Friday, December 14, 2007

Five Things I Like about Being a Librarian

Today I'll write happy things, and you'll know why by the end. I'll try to come up with some things I like about being a librarian.

First, it's very peaceful and low stress. Sure, it gets hectic occasionally, and sometimes I feel that if I have to attend another meeting and read the news while pretending to take notes I'll go insane, but in general it's a peaceful life with little stress. I don't have to bill every hour. If I make a bad decision, nobody dies. I won't get sued for librarian malpractice. If I let my attention wander for a while, I don't have to worry about some piece of machinery taking my hand off or anything like that.

Second, the standards are low. This sounds like it would be a bad thing, but it means that I don't have to work as hard to excel. I like to stand out, and if I was in a tougher profession, I'd have to work a lot harder, and I don't like to work hard. Now I just have to work a little bit harder than my colleagues, and they don't like to work hard either.

Third, it's not busy, busy, busy all the time. If librarians were busy all the time, there wouldn't be so many librarian blogs, now would there? Busy librarians don't have time to blog so much. You can tell those librarians without much to do by the frequency of their blog posts. Show me a librarian who posts every day to two or three blogs, and I'll show you a librarian who's mastered the art of looking busy without working very hard. I'm not making fun; these librarians are to be imitated. Master that art, and your work life will be much improved.

Fourth, it's increasingly a very flexible job. With modern communication technology, I can be just about anywhere most of the time. Right now, in fact, I'm sitting in bed with a cup of tea and taking a break from some actual work I was doing to write this. How could I be annoyed about that?

And finally, I get a lot of vacation. That's one of the things that makes me happiest, and it's making me happy because I'm about to use it. I'm taking three weeks off, returning to the ancestral manse, and relaxing with some good books, some old friends, and perhaps a martini or two. Thus, you might not see much of me until the new year, because this afternoon I might turn off the computer for three weeks. Even if I'm on, I probably wont' be reading library blogs and websites, and if I didn't do that I wouldn't have anything to be annoyed about. I might post, but I need a break from the AL as much as you probably do.

So if I'm not back until January, have a Merry Christmas or Happy Winter Solstice or whatever it is you celebrate about this time of year. Rest assured, I'll be thinking about you all constantly until my return, as well as wishing peace upon earth toward people of good will.

Pax Vobiscum.


Anonymous said...

Since AL is being so mellow today, I'll act as the AL should/would if she wasn't zoned out on Christmas spirit(s). Unfortunately I DO have a lot of things I DON'T like about being a Librarian.
1)In a one person library there is no one else to do it except me so it is stressful. Since I'm a hospital librarian someone CAN die if I give the doctor the wrong information, or lose a leg, or not get the right cancer treatment, or get the picture. Stress-R-us in the hospital library field.
2)Standards are high when you can't blame anyone else! Apologizing for your colleague/clerk/etc. not getting something done doesn't work when you're the only one there.
3)It is busy, busy, busy all the time, hence this is my first blog posting.
4)Flexibility! HA! I have to open the doors and man the desk every single day.
5)Vacation is great....when your boss will let you take it. I'm willing to be the Annoyed Librarian today because, in spite of the fact that I got coverage for the library on Christmas eve so I could take a vacation day and have Christmas tea at a fancy hotel with my husband, my !@#$ of a boss decided to be a Scourge and won't let me take it! Seems she's instituted her own rule that you need to request vacation 30 days in advance. I requested only 28 days in advance and, even though I've arranged coverage, she's the boss. Bah! Humbug!

e-Lizabeth said...

Happy holidaying, AL. Until January...cheers to you.


Ed Crank -- Librarian said...

Amen anonymous!

I wish I had one of those cushy library jobs.

Try having lawyers breathing down your neck wanting stuff, no not yesterday, but two weeks ago. And every case is the most important one and you have to drop everything for them.

Work from home? Must be nice. Everyone who sends me e-mails from their home wanting what I have in the stacks tell me so. Plus, if you don't show your face around people will forget you and have no problem eliminating your line from the budget.

Blog and comment. Yep I can multitask, if you don't mind spelling mistakes in my comments.

Vacation? Then I get to experience flexibility because I have to have my cell phone and have to stay at someplace with reliable wireless.

Stressful. You bet. Do I get paid well. You bet. I would much rather have a challenge and time restraints rather than the lah de dah "professionals" out there.

Maybe if librarians corrected some of these issues, we would be regarded more highly. Get off your butt, get into work, do your work fast, accurate and when it is done go looking for something else to do.

Or sit back and whine.

Now get back to work Cratchit and stop going on about more coal.

Anonymous said...

On the one hand, I will miss you for the three weeks. On the other hand though, you deserve a holiday, so good for you that you are taking it. I hope you have a happy and safe and merry Christmas, or whatever holiday you choose to celebrate (or not).

kudzuhomecomingqueen said...

Like you AL, I'm outta here for 3 weeks. Academic librarian is the life baby. Oh, that and some martinis and chocolate at lunch.

Anonymous said...

My job is stressful and I don't get paid well. I mean, I'm eating, but they don't pay me as well as they pay the engineers that I slave for.

AL said...

anon@9:58, I recommend avoiding working in any library where there are fewer than 20 professional librarians.

anon@11:35, it sounds like you should be an engineer instead.

The Paraprofessional said...

Don't forget that $90,000 salary for being an academic librarian at the same institution for the last 20 years.

Anonymous said...

AL, et al,
"Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night." I will be going through withdrawl during your holiday merrymaking.

Anon 9:58

There is hope for you as not all hospital libraries that are one-man-shows are like yours. My motto at my job is "H.A.P.P.Y. I LOVE MY JOB!" Yes I have to deal with the life or death consequences at times. Yes there is a high level of standards. And yes I am busy 95% of the time. But I have a wonderful boss. wonderful coworkers, and a great hospital to work in. And it makes a great difference, as I have heard a few horror stories. Wish you luck in finding a better work environment.

Ed Crank -- Librarian said...

Work in an academic setting?

You have to either be born into that position or be willing to wait two years while the various committees go over your application.

skeptical thomas said...

Same to you, sister AL!

Anonymous said...

You're right, after being here, I realize I could have been an engineer. I'm smarter than many of them (especially the one who asked "how do I use the index.")

Bah!Humbug! said...

I am anonymous 9:58am--just call me Bah!Humbug! Yes, yes, I certainly should have been an academic librarian! Do you guys actually make $90,000! Wow! I'm making 1/3 less and I've been here 15 years! Frankly, I'm tired of it all. I LOVE my doctors and nurses but my boss....and HER BOSS... How do these people get these jobs and keep them! Generally we're a great hospital. Everyone appreciates my work, praises me a lot, sends me lovely thank you notes, etc. Its just my boss. I know that every organization has their little sinkholes of despair where some petty tyrant gets away with lying, intimidation, etc. While she left me pretty much alone she's taken a notion lately to be as nasty as possible...while smiling all the time. URRRR! I've been reading the ads and I'm out of here within the year. I pity the poor librarian who comes after me. But someone always has it worst--a boss from @#$$ and low salary and poor benefits besides. At least my benefits are good and I'll wave them a sad farewell as I go. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Gee AL, somehow I'm not sure it's you posting if you're not annoyed.

Hope you have a good holiday season (3 weeks....quel luxe!) and hope to read you next month when you are happily annoyed and over the holidaze cheer.

Anonymous said...

Three weeks off and use of the phrase "Happy Winter Solstice"....HA! I think I found you out and we work in the same library.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps this should be re-titled "Five Things I Like about Being a *Tenured* Librarian. For many of us, all of that luxurious blogging time is taken up by creating tedious publications and presentations that annoy our tenured colleagues so.

Now, you can drink martinis as you relax, but have you forgotten swilling bourbon just to get through the grind?

Anonymous said...

For the person who thinks academic librarians who stay in the same place make more money: not true, when you stay in the same place you have nothing to negotiate (been in the same place for over 30 years and if I used my real name here you'd recognize it, and I make quite a bit less than $90,000/annum). To make more money you need to move around ...

On the other hand, I agree with AL, that in my entire career I have never met up with a "bibliographic emergency!"

Anonymous said...

Pax tecum! And have a relaxing, non-annoying holiday.

Ed crank -- Librarian said...

You have never had a bibliographic emergency?

You need to get out of your ivory tower once and awhile.

webbygrl said...

Hey, I graduated today with my MLS!! Yay me! Now to become an employed librarian...

Have a happy one AL! Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

AL, you make my life better and help relieve some of the wee bits of stress I have in my academic library job. Thanks for blogging, and enjoy your break. Happy Martini-mas!

academiclibrarian said...

life as a non-tenure track librarian is pretty cushy too
1. no publish or perish
2. good benefits
3. tons of vacation time
4. access to the campus rec center (no need to pay for a gym membership_
5. tuition reimbursement
6. low stress in comparison to the corporate library I used to work
7. good boss/coworkers

Anonymous said...

AL, I was with you until you got to the part about vacation. I'm a civil servant librarian and almost have to punch a clock. Vacation time dribbles out at so many minutes per pay period. Three weeks off? I'd have to be here for YEARS without taking ANY time off in order to have 3 weeks banked.

And that's only part of the reason I've been applying for academic posts for the last 6 months.

Have a nice break.

Anonymous said...

I too like not having to work hard to excel, but I don't like the grief I get for excelling in the first place - that's what makes the job stressful.

il library student said...

I'll add to your comment about blog posting librarians and add listserv posting librarians.

When I subscribed to PubLib and LibRef, it always seemed like the same people were posting or having conversations on the listserv.

I no longer subscribe to either of those listservs as I couldn't keep up reading the volume of messages.

That and a lot (I dare say most) librarians couldn't figure out how to delete the extraneous info when replying to a post in a digest. Scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year AL! I'm sure you'll be celebrating with more than one or two martinis!

brettv72 said...

@9:58 - Try doing all of that in a hospital library as a Library Associate with no Librarian, 1/2 the salary, and only a 0.5 FTE to do it in...

You got it easy, buddy.
*snarky smile*

Anonymous said...

5:25 PM

You must work in my system.

Robert M. Lindsey said...

One of your best posts. I really needed to be reminded of some of the better things about my profession right now. Not because of what I do, which I mostly like, but because of others and the tenure process.

Anonymous said...

Your blog is mentioned in Library Journal.

Ed Crank -- Librarian said...

Tenure must be nice. That and having your employer send you to conferences to sit and hob-nob with all the other elite.

Back to the grind.

Anonymous said...

A merry Christmas to you too.


Ed Crank -- Librarian said...

bah humbug

My take on the Christmas Carol is that it takes a fine, upstanding, respectable businessman and turns him into a sentimental weakling.


morse said...

Et cum spiritu tuo.

Anonymous said...

Barukh Atta Adonay Eloheynu Melekh Ha-olam She-asa Nissim La-avoteynu Ba-yyamim Ha-hem Ba-zzman Ha-zze

Anonymous said...

Better start sobering up academics.

Kevin Musgrove said...

I know I'm not the only one working in English public libraries who do have to punch a clock!

Kimbre said...

You obviously don't work in a public library. My job is high stress, very demanding, and since I'm in charge of my department, the standards are high. My part time assistant and I just finished building a website for the department, and the plans for a redesign of our physical space project, and oh yeah, summer reading is underway. Summer Reading is the most gigantic wedding you can imagine in which the guests don't go home for two months. During the year, we do a lot of library programming as well as outreach to the schools and community.

I'm in Youth Services and fill in for adult reference. The job is rewarding and fast paced! I'd never read a blog at work -- no time. But it's late, I'm home and relaxing.

And I did get one day off at Christmas, and New Year's Day will be off too.

I love my job. Wish I had more time off though.

-- Children's Librarian

Anonymous said...

Academics Rule!

They rule the blog scene, they rule the conference scene, the rule the rules scene, the rule the standards scene.

Face it, baby, They RULE!

Sadly, information and libraries don't all fit into their neat slots and so the rest of us who work for a living and don't get the any of the five things that make it great to be an academic librarian have to make do and hope that those in the ivory towers remember us peons once and awhile.

You can go back to your Bacchanal now.

Anonymous said...

I work in a medium sized public library and have said many of the exact things mention in this post. I feel guilty when I go to conferences and run into the one person library people. They do have it rough and I honestly feel for them, but I do love my cushy library job! Enjoy your vacation.

Anonymous said...

jeez, if your job is so cushy and easy and nobody really needs it done, why not take off until February.

Matter of fact, don't come in until we call you.


KATE! binns said...

I'm very interested in becoming a librarian. I'm not sure what kind of librarian I want to be, but I do know that I love research, the English language, and order. My favorite place in the library was always Special Collections.

I'm currently a teacher. I really do love having my summer's off... Three weeks of vacation sounds delightful!