It's the AL's birthday this week. She turns two, and I'm surprised she's made it this far. The AL started in a fit of annoyance at the idiocies of the ALA Council passing unheeded and irrelevant political resolutions instead of its more usual unheeded library-related resolutions. Then the AL languished for three months while I tried, unsuccessfully, to start a very different blog under an even odder (in some ways) identity. No one read the other blog. A handful of people read the AL. So I dropped the other blog to concentrate on this one, and the rest is library blogging history. That statement may seem immodest, but at this point I feel certain that if any unbiased history of library blogging is ever written (and what boring history that would be!), then the Annoyed Librarian would at least warrant a footnote, if not a paragraph of her own in the chapter on librarian blogs nobody quite knows what to make of.
Two years isn't that long for a blog, but it seems like a long time to me, and this past year has been particularly strange and yet rewarding, what with readership increasing substantially and people voting for me in all those polls of "library blogs to read." After the LIS News thing, I ran across a blog by an LIS student who was just shocked that any librarians would read this blog. After all, I'm so mean and unconstructive and apparently she didn't like the responses she got to a comment she made on one of my posts. (I say "ran across," when actually the post came to me via the self-obsessed Google alert I get every week on "annoyed librarian.") What can I say? There are enough Pollyanna library blogs out there. Who needs another one? Then again, I know a lot of you read specifically to disagree with me, so what's a gal to do? But enough from me. What do you think about me?
But seriously, folks. This reminiscing isn't worthy of a post of its own, so lets turn to something that also isn't worth a post of its own, and maybe the two together will be enough. Today, I would like to address the subject of cubicles. I know, I know, exciting stuff. Stop, AL, you'll say! Remember my blood pressure!
As we know from the title of his blog, the Ubiquitous Librarian likes to be everywhere, but everywhere should never include a cubicle. Out sick for a week and forced to move into a cubicle. Use up too many sick days and they know how to discipline you at whatever library he works at. He thinks his stay might be temporary because of some HVAC problem. Well, possibly.
But in my experience, it's rare for anyone to move from a cubicle back to an office. A cubicle is sort of like a hospice--you might leave, but usually not back to somewhere more pleasant or independent.
Personally, I think cubicles are great . . . for other people. They help herd a lot of people into a small space, which is important to make more room for my office. And what's more fun for the librarians than overhearing loud conversations from their neighbor's cube and engaging in a little innocent prairie-dogging when contretemps erupt in the librarian corral. They're delightfully interchangeable, which is just how you want your staff to think of themselves. There's nothing more troublesome than uppity staff, and there's no better way simultaneously to lower your librarians' morale and show them how unimportant they are to the organization than to put them all in cubicles.
Have you ever noticed that those making the decision to put people in cubicles somehow never think their own work would be improved by a cubicle? Of course not. Some people are all ambitious to move up into the library adminisphere so they can control things and make a bit more money. But the biggest incentive to move into the adminisphere is to make sure that when the cubicles are being doled out to the lowly staff you're the one making the decision and not the one being made a decision upon. The most important factor in my last job move was the improved office. Do I get a roomy office with a corner view? Okay, then. Throw in a relatively high salary and a staff that'll get things done while leaving me alone (err, I mean an independent and empowered staff) and I'm the librarian for you.
The two topics of this post do have a connection, in case you were wondering. Does anyone think the AL could be written in a cubicle, with the constant possibility of exposure? Most likely, not. (Actually, most of these posts are written on my sofa at home, but you get the point.) So by all means do yourselves a favor and put all your disgruntled librarians in cubicles, where they can be watched closely at all times and where they'll never know privacy or blessed silence. After all, if the librarians are in a cubicle farm, the modern office equivalent of the panopticon, they'll be far less likely to write annoying blogs. Keep that in mind.