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Friday, January 4, 2013

5 Reasons Being a Librarian Is Stressful

(See? I can make a link-baiting title too.)

LIBRARIANS AND STRESS: AN ANECDOTAL STUDY
(a.k.a Not cool, CNBC. Not cool.)

I've been working on this blog post all day, sneaking it in where I could during my breaks, trying to get my thoughts into coherent order (instead of anger-fueled order). Subsequently, I'm sure you guys have seen this mess by now: CNBC.com, with the help of something called CareerCast.com, created a list of the "Least Stressful Jobs of 2013." Naturally, librarians made the list. Why wouldn't we? Aren't we all just floating on clouds made of sugar, leisurely reading books while basking in the glow of constant patron compliments?

Nope. But this guy Tony Lee from CareerCast seems to think so! First, some context. Now, I don't really want to link to the illogical, asinine, poorly-written article again because then CNBC WINS, so below is the text on which I am focusing. (I tweeted the link around 9am today, so look for it there if you are desperate to read the whole thing.)

From the introduction:

"So what makes a job 'least' stressful? 'If you look at the list, the key that you see there is these are jobs where people are in control of their day – working as fast as they feel they need to be effective,' said Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast.com. 'You don't have somebody kind of breathing over your shoulder. There's no physical risk at all, and no one is depending on you in your job to make their life expectancy last longer!' 'These are jobs that that keep your blood pressure nice and low,' Lee said. And while you won't hear a lot of 'thank yous' for the most stressful jobs, these least stressful jobs are loaded with them! 'Most people tend to be thankful for what they do,' Lee said. "They get a lot of 'thank yous' and smiles and warm fuzzies!"

Um. Yeah. Just keep that in mind when you think about what you as a librarian go through every day. Here's what Lee had to say about our job:
"You're working in a comfortable environment. Your job is to help people use services as best as possible. Given that environment, stress levels are low," Lee said. "What's the most stressful thing a librarian faces? Teenagers with a paper due and you don't have the books. It's not really your stress," Lee said. Plus, there are mandatory "quiet" rules in libraries and you're surrounded by books. Books don't talk back or criticize the job you're doing!"
(They even repeat this point LATER when talking about a tailor's job, saying "And, like the librarian with the books, you have an added bonus – clothes don't talk back!"

UM, PEOPLE TALK BACK, YOU SILLY, MISINFORMED MAN!

Oh, Tony Lee of Careercast.com. Looks like you need a librarian on staff to help you with accuracy! Was this article researched at ALL? Have you even stepped foot inside a library within the past two decades?

So, yeah, this is all ridiculous. I wanted to respond, and this morning I decided to blog about it (and posted my intentions on Twitter and Facebook ). I knew my rant wouldn't be enough on its own, however, so I asked my Twitter librarian friends to help out. So many of them were just as baffled and frustrated by the article as I was.

Around 9:30am today I tweeted:

"Hey librarians, tweet me a reason that your job is stressful and I'll put it in my blog post. I'm so tired of the media getting us wrong."

Well, I got about a BILLION responses. Seriously, like, hundreds. I couldn't keep up. (Thanks, everyone!) Librarians be MAD, and we're not going to take it sitting down.

Based on the responses and on my own experiences, I've broken down the big librarian stressors into 5 categories. These are not exhaustive, and they totally blend into one another, and really I just wanted to capitalize on the list format that is so popular with the media these days. Forgive me for being sloppy and derivative. Also forgive me, Twitter friends, for not including every response yet. There were SO many of them, and they were all relevant (and some were downright disturbing and/or hilarious). Five hours later, I am STILL getting them, and still trying to sift through them, so I will try to add more as the day goes on. However, there were a lot of common themes that were repeated, so it's my hope that  I've covered the basic idea. Feel free to add yours in the comments! (And if you're really curious, take a look at the Tweets I've "favorited" on Twitter, it shows them all.)

And now....

5 Reasons Being a Librarian Is Stressful  (a.k.a. Shut up, CNBC!)

1) JOB SECURITY

I can't think of a bigger stressor than that one this these days. As budgets shrink, librarianship is becoming more and more unstable. My own job is threatened every six months or so, and every six months I panic and do (unpaid) grassroots advocacy to fight the cuts. This should not be, and it does not contribute to a stress-free work environment.

Twitter response:

@olinj: How about the ever present spectre of budget cuts & possible layoffs?

How about that? That's fun, right? Moving on.

 
2) DEPLETING RESOURCES

Budget cuts don't just threaten the existence of our jobs - they decrease our ability to do our jobs as effectively as possible. This includes but is not limited to a lack of materials (books, office supplies, desks, even paper is scarce) and cancelled programs, like storytimes and RIF. And if you think these kinds of programs are not important, I'm going to send you a dictionary because you obviously need to re-learn the definition of important. I mean, the children who come into the library today are going to be running the world soon. Do we really want them to not be as educated as they possibly can be?

Twitter responses:

 @pnkrcklibrarian: If the ILS breaks, I'm only one who can fix it. Broken OPAC shuts down public, cataloging, tech services, acquisitions, etc

@XineGirl: Watching the library building be worn down because there's no budget for maintenance. Not even carpet cleaning. UGH.


@XineGirl: Watching the digital divide get deeper and wider as people w/out computer skills are told "Go online!" for EVERYTHING

@aswatki1: constantly asked to do more more more for my patrons....but with less money than ever before.

@AnnieSeiler: Stretching an already super thin budget to last for all of your programs for the entire year, and justifying every penny.

@wylie_alan: dealing with the digital divide and ever increasing push towards e-government with a lack of ICT resources

@vcmcguire: Having to constantly justify our existence, provide more and better services with fewer hours, smaller budget, etc.

 @MrsFridayNext: Also, I'd love to be able to convince an MBA who needs a checked-out reserve book RIGHT NOW that their stress is not mine.

That last one resonated with me a lot. Tony Lee doesn't really understand what it means to be a librarian. People MAKE their stress your stress. And if you're a good librarian, it will be your stress anyway. I actually DO care if that teenager finishes his research paper, Tony. Otherwise, what the hell am I here for? If we don't have the right resources, we cannot help people the way we want to. THAT IS STRESSFUL.


3) BEING SHORT-STAFFED

This comes along with the resources being hacked, but it's a big one. It's exhausting being on the desk all day. It's hard to feel like you're accomplishing anything when your time is stretched very thinly and you have to juggle various projects and there's a line of patrons and "MISS! MISS! THE BATHROOM KEY FELL IN THE TOILET!" Public librarians, for the most part, like to be part of a community. When there aren't enough librarians to get the job done, the job is much more stressful than it should be.

Twitter responses:

@katerzina: budget! trying to get ahead & plan summer reading but with no idea of a budget sucks. also, really bad under staffing.

@j13rexy: Im head of the teen depart, only part time. Sometimes I have to work alone, help patrons, plan programs, weed, update the...

@LibraryElfReads: sometimes, I'm the only librarian to answer questions and the line is often 3-5 pple long. Last time someone left the line.
 

@aswatki1: I'm janitor, mom, teacher, IT guy, nurse, cop, shrink, cheerleader, fireman, event planner. I make as much as a waiter.

@small_fox: I'm responsible for EVERYTHING for patrons 0-18 BY MYSELF unless I can find some volunteers to help

(To that point, volunteers are GREAT and extremely helpful, but it's not the same as having enough full-time librarians on staff.)


4) DEALING WITH PEOPLE

This one is the most obvious to me. I think we can all agree that any job dealing with the public, whether you're slinging burgers or books, is going to be stressful.

This category in can be broken down into various subcategories. We have sexual harassment, we have mentally ill patrons, we have fights and drunk people and screaming kids. And it's not just "problem" patrons that make it stressful, either. Librarians often act as a sounding board for people who just need to talk, and sometimes that can be stressful on us. It's not easy hearing about a woman who has lost her home or how a kid's father is in jail, etc. We are there for people, as we should be, but we are human too and it all takes an emotional toll.

Twitter responses:

‏@SarahNicholas: Most librarians have a story about being called a 'fucking bitch' or being spat at because a book was overdue or missing.

@unclassifiable_: Academic libraries aren't immune either.We had a patron with multiple personalities&a love of feces painting.


@funktious: I once had a student tell me she hoped I got raped, that was nice. Also many, many grown men shouting at me.
 
 
@LibraryElfReads: Books don't critize but people do, unfortunately. (Most are great, but a few really make it tough.)

@MrsFridayNext: Mentally unstable homeless people I deal with alone, no guaranteed quick response police. And I work at a major university.

‏@popgolibrarians: Students who blame ME for not having the books/articles they need and therefore ruining their academic career and life
@kelly_clever: Someone dropped the f-bomb on me once over a 10-cent fine. Sexual harassment from patrons is no fun, either.

@alextretiak: Patrons who complain to the mayor when your WiFi is a little slower because you have 250 extra patrons in after a hurricane.

People, amiright? Can't be a librarian with 'em, can't be a librarian without 'em.

5) PERCEPTIONS/LACK OF RESPECT

This category is, perhaps, a little more difficult to explain to non-librarians. Basically, we are swimming upstream in a world that doesn't really "get" our job. (Even some library administrators around the globe don't seem to understand our jobs, and it's being reflected in some of the work that librarians are being told to do - or not do.) I even have friends (well, acquaintances) who don't really understand or appreciate what I do, and I know they are probably rolling their eyes at this whole post, thinking "GOD, RITA, IT'S NOT LIKE IT'S BRAIN SURGERY." No, it's not. That doesn't mean there isn't stress. There's really not much we can do about this sort of thinking besides rail against it. So, I apologize for "whining" about this, but if I can get just one person to understand what a librarian really does, I will be satisfied.

‏@catagator: Librarians are asked to create oxygen everyday, for little pay and with little respect.

@esurientes: Fear of redundancy, budget cuts, tasks that are more administrative without using LIS skills, low morale.& this is Australia!

@coxtl: I constantly have to prove my worth in order to protect the library, budgets are cut but responsibilities are higher


Someone else said: "Librarian's starting salary is 10K LESS than a professor's, both positions require the same level degree."
Although I'm not sure how accurate that is (another Twitter user pointed out that professors need PhDs as well) it's a good point. Remember, people, you have to get a Master's Degree to be a librarian. That's stressful! Then you have to pay back your student loans with your paltry salary. ALSO STRESSFUL. I know, we took it upon ourselves to do a job that we (mostly) love, so we're not complaining. BUT STOP SAYING IT'S NOT STRESSFUL.

Deep breath...

IN CONCLUSION

I realized that I haven't even scratched the surface of librarian stress, but I have a feeling that this will not be the last time we have this conversation, so I'll save some of my rage...I mean, THOUGHTS for another time.

Twitter friend @TJ800 said: "Also, the temptation of management to assign more tasks to library staff cos of the very perception that cnbc is touting."

And that's the main reason I am writing this post. These incorrect perceptions are not only annoying, they are potentially damaging. Quite frankly, I don't care if my job is respected or deemed impressive. That's not why I got into this career. But if people keep reading misinformation about how libraries aren't being used, or how being a librarian is a stress-free job, etc.,  they are going to want to stop paying taxes to fund libraries. They will stop donating, they will stop attending, they will stop taking out materials and bringing their kids. And then we will be in real trouble.

Look, Tony Lee. I'm sure you're a nice guy and had good intentions while contributing to this article (I'm not sure what they are, but I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt). But you're wrong. Just plain wrong. I don't want a ticker tape parade for librarians. I don't want accolades. I'm not even asking for higher pay (although that WOULD be nice, because I am not making anywhere near the "median salary" CNBC reported). I just want the media to stop feeding the erroneous assumptions. I just want to do my damn job and stop having to defend it every five minutes. Because if we librarians don't defend it, it's just going to get worse.
(Oh, okay. Throw a ticker tape parade for librarians IF YOU MUST. I won't complain about that.)

I welcome any comments. If I missed your tweet, please feel to share your thoughts below. Thank you for reading.

118 comments:

  1. Thanks for collating these tweets!

    xo,
    SL

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  2. All so true! The e-government trend is particularly a killer. First the local government puts everything online to save on paper, equipment, and staff (even welfare and subsidized housing applications). Then they cut the library budget (when the library houses the ONLY public computer lab and the ONLY public employees offering information literacy education to adults), saying people can always get information online and buy ebooks. Their assumption? Everyone, even the poorest of the poor, has adequate internet access and computers/ereaders at home and is fully information-literate. And if they don't, tough noogies on them. It's maddening!

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    1. Good points. Totally illogical.

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    2. Our town is the county seat, housing the court house. The court house no longer gives out forms. They tell people "go to the library, the library has forms". They don't tell people that A. we don't have court forms of any kind, B. you have to pay to print from the computers or C. where to locate said forms online, assuming they even told them what form they needed in the first place. We are also one of the few libraries left that has paper tax forms, a major headache from early December to May. People get mad at us if we run out, if they're not there on time, and, most illogically, that the post office and other government places no longer carry them. How is that our fault??

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    3. I've been doing this for 35 years, and it just keeps getting tougher. We are trying to do more for people who need more as other agencies cut services. All the time we are expected to provide superb customer service, and we do it. I think that's remarkable, commendable, and yes, stressful.

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  3. Great post! What about just the general stress of CARING? We (or most librarians I know anyway) actually care about that teenager or kid who has a project due. Like teachers, we become invested in the lives of the children and families we work with. Books may not talk back but kids certainly do and they have a lot to say that can be very troubling. I had a professor who said libraries serve everyone, from cradle to grave. We have the stress of trying to be everything to everyone and we're being asked to do more than ever with far less resources. That man is severely misinformed about what we do.

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  4. I've been working in a public library for almost two years now and I will admit often that I had NO idea how much went into working at one before I did. I'm not a librarian, but I worked in Circulation for a little over a year and I can attest to each of the points made by you and others. Working in a library is definitey NOT a stress free job. Like you said, any job that puts you working with the public is gonna be tough, you never know what you're going to run into. It's laughable that Tony Lee says librarians are "in control of their day".. I'm sure most days do not go as planned. And mandatory quiet times? He definitely has not stepped foot in a library recently. Good for you in putting this post together. I've always thought that those people who are so rude to library workers or think their jobs are cake should have to do their job for a week or so and see what they think then.

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  5. Thankyouthankyouthankyou... and need I say it again? THANK YOU.

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  6. Forbes.com also picked up on this one and ran with it - my favorite outraged comment was, "Apparently, the least stressful job out there is the author of this study at CareerCast.com because obviously that person did no research at all before writing up this crap."

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    1. Love it! Thanks for filtering the good comment out :)

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  7. Thank you for this!!! I could throw a tidbit in for #4: patrons who ask how much longer we think libraries can last. I had an older couple come in to check out their FREE passes for FREE admission to an expensive museum try and initiate a conversation about how libraries aren't necessary anymore, and how much longer we can last. THANKS. Tell that to the 150 teenagers who troop to our library every day after school to work, socialize, be tutored and get books for school.

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  8. Also, if you looked at the rest of list you'll notice he's WAY off on the whole list. Medical Records Technician and Medical Laboratory Technician doesn't scream STRESS FREE to me. This Tony Lee guy must be absolutely nuts!

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  9. I'm not sure Tony Lee has thought much about ANY of the choices on his list. He claims that 'lab technician' isn't a stressful job, for example - which according to his own definition also implies that LTs don't have people's lives in their hands. My mum was a biomedical scientist (ie. a lab techician running samples in the biochemistry labs of a hospital) for thirty years and I can tell you right now, it was stressful! Sure, there might be slow times, there might be nice times, but there were also (regular) times went samples went astray en route to the labs, when machines broke down and no one could fix them, when hundreds of samples arrived unexpectedly at once - and the doctors impatiently awaiting those results were often treating seriously ill patients and people in intensive care. The kind of situations where any delays or problems could have a huge impact. Still feelin' warm and fuzzy there, Tony?

    Yes, this has been a colossally off-topic comment (sorry Rita) but what it boils down to is: I AGREE! Any job working for the public, under fire from various sides and with patrons/customers/clients who are often clueless about what your job actually entails, qualifies as stressful. The more people acknowledge and understand that, the better for ALL of us, I think. Long live the librarians! :)

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    1. Heh, don't apologize. Lee & CNBC were off the mark with everything they wrote. And I don't even mean to paint Lee as the "bad guy." We librarians have to do a better job at educating the public about our actual jobs. That's why I'm trying to do with this post (and entire blog, really) anyway!

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    2. And you do a great job... I'm a regular library stalker (and librarian sympathiser) but I've learned plenty about the bits of the library I don't use much, and about the behind-the-scenes work patrons don't see, from reading your blog!

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  10. LOVED this post. I'm not a librarian, but I work at a library as their web editor/public relations specialist and I see this stuff all the time. Librarians deserve so much more respect and they're some of the nicest people within the community. They constantly put up with rude people, clean up after peoples children and attend to a whole variety of things NOT in their job description. Glad you've stated these facts for many people to read about!

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  11. Some things that go with #4: a coworker was hit with a chair after telling a patron to please keep his voice down. Another coworker had a patron throw a computer monitor at her. We had a patron last year standing outside by the door telling people he was going to eat them as they entered the library. Good thing those aren't stressful situations!

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  12. "In control of my day"! Now, that's just funny. No, my job isn't stressful as in I-have-to-enter-burning-buildings stressful, but you hit all of the main points. It is stressful, although my students are pretty good about saying thank you!

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  13. I have worked with my county's libraries for 7-8 years, starting out as a volunteer in high school, being hired as a page and now working circulation while aiming for my own MLS degree. Points 4 and 5 are the biggest stressers for me on here. Never did I think I would encounter the kind of people I do on a daily basis. I never thought I would be stalked at my job and feel so threatened. Cards being thrown at me, being called an uncaring bitch over a 20 cent fine, PUBLIC MASTURBATION, being treated like the worst person in the world for not having a book in, cleaning BLOOD of books left in the book drop -- this list could go on and on and on.

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    Replies
    1. It's tough, but we take the bad with the good. (Hopefully there's more good!)

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  14. I really appreciate this article. It's well-written and makes some very good points. I work in a library myself and we are stuck in the hard place of having to justify our existence to the community - and defend our choice of budget cuts to others. While I understand that this is by no means a complete list of the stresses that we have to deal with on a daily basis (I don't think there's even a way to list all of those), this article definitely hits the top ones. Thanks for writing it!

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  15. I'm a new, young tenure-track academic librarian. In addition to my job duties, I have to make sure I publish, present at conferences, and serve on library/university committees in order to stay on track. I could be fired at my third year review. And on top of that, my job description is pretty sketchy to begin with (Digital stuff! We don't know!) and I have minimal constructive supervision, so I have to make up my day-to-day job on the fly and hope it passes muster. The (lack of) faculty and staff morale alone at this institution is enough for an emotional breakdown.

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    1. Your comment ties in with another job on the list - university professor, which I consider to also be a very stressful job. Has this guy never seen someone trying to earn tenure? And any tenured college faculty worth their salt is a busy, busy, person, constantly working on research, teaching, and being involved with committees. I worked in a research lab while my boss was working on his T&P packet - go you! I know that can be enormously stressful.

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    2. What about adjunct professors? The are responsible for 80% of the teaching at many colleges...for far less pay. AND, they go to their teaching jobs AFTER they have worked in the business world all day!

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  16. It seems that Tony Lee might need some research assistance from a librarian.

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  17. Thank you for this post! Don't forget to include cleaning up various bodily fluids!

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  18. Thank you! I'm a children's librarian (which despite the administration denying there are specialties anymore is still being a reference librarian and then some). After seven years in the public eye I've seen my ability to serve the public dwindle as I'm made to account for every single minute I'm not on a desk and having my resources sapped left and right. I serve five public elementary schools four afterschool centers, six different preschools and the parent and child patrons who come in all day. It's rarely quiet, rarely completely calm and certainly not stress free. I've had people threaten physical harm to me, I've had a brick thrown through our window, a book burned on the stairs, patrons go into seizures and children get lost or get their things stolen. We deal with the public, warts and all, not a sanitized glorified book world. We have few pages to shelve, so I spend a lot of time on my hands and knees shelving. I'm a performer, babysitter, janitor, book shelver, weeder, mediator, computer tech, and sometimes I'm actually a children's librarian, and I'm a damned good one. But not stressful? Not likely.

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    1. We children's librarians do it all with a smile, don't we? ;)

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  19. Thank you Rita for being a sounding board for so many in the LIS community!

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  20. I agree with all of what you said, although most of this focuses on professional politics and/or hectic or unpleasant work environment. What about the actual job requirements and responsibilities? As a law librarian, I have not only an MLIS, but a (very expensive and hard-won) JD, as well as several years worth of legal practice experience both in the U.S. and abroad. As a foreign, comparative, and international legal specialist, I do work every day in French, Spanish, and Italian, and expect to have to obtain a working knowledge of both German and Portugese within the next year. I teach three law school courses, edit a journal, and am expected to publish and speak at conferences in order to get tenure. I also work closely with our faculty on extremely challenging and substantive legal research questions. I am five times as busy as I was as a practicing attorney, and at approximately one third of the salary. I am quite possibly one of the most educated people at my university, yet students, public patrons, and administrative staff mouth off to me on a daily basis. I'm expected to react with a smile and a helping hand. I love my job, but it is demanding, frustrating, chaotic, and at times overwhelming. Sometimes I don't even think I'm equal to the task. So for some journalist who clearly has no idea what the range of library work entails to promote such an obnoxious stereotype really irritated the hell out of me. I can guarantee that my job is a lot more stressful than his, and that I'm a lot more qualified to do it.

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    1. Yes, I admit that my scope was narrowly focused on public librarians. Thanks for your views.

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    2. It's interesting - nearly all of the responses to the article that I have seen have been from public librarians. And admittedly, the article itself seemed to describe the "typical" public librarian stereotypes. Part of what annoyed me was that he didn't even consider the enormous range of librarian positions that actually exist aside from what would seem to be the stereotypical public or school library. Don't get me wrong - I am glad that I don't work in a public library (our pro se patrons are difficult enough, and I'm glad I'm not experiencing the horror stories that some people have described.) But academic libraries are a whole different beast when it comes to stress, politics, job requirements, and expectations, and I'm sure that this guy, like most people, would be shocked to learn what one has to go through to get and keep one of these jobs, let alone excel at it. And that's not to mention the probably hundreds of specialty library positions that I know nothing about - corporate firm libraries, government agencies, all of the information management and more techy kind of stuff... sadly, most non-librarians think that being a librarian is something straight out of a Richard Scarry picture book.

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  21. Bravo! I think everyone should read your blog before they go to library school so they can make sure they know what they are getting into. I became a librarian 36 years ago because I wanted to help people. It's more of a calling than a career because you know you're never going to get rich. I have enjoyed being a librarian for the most part but the things you describe in your blog have made it a lot harder. Then to top it all off we have people who trivialize our job and sterotype us. I appreciate your well-written blog and hope that Library Journal will print it in an upcoming issue. I hope CNBC gets to read it too. I also nominate you for Librarian of the Year. Seriously. Just knowing that we all experience the same thing - we're not in this alone - helps. Thanks, Rita! --- Rose M.

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    1. Goodness, thank you! All of that is not necessary, but it's nice of you to say. :)

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  22. If I had a nickel for every person who's told me, "Oh, you must love working at the library with the books all day long!" I would have made more money on that than working at the library. Seriously, it is a public service job! I love it, but it's very stressful at times, especially when budgets are cut and you have to help people without resources.

    Frankly, I think that last bit is the worst. When the economy tanks, people come to the library for help with career changes and re-education. At the same time, our budget is cut due to the same economy problems. People can be horrid about this too. When we had to cut hours in 2009, I had a patron ask me why they didn't lay me off instead of cutting a day. I gave him a steely glare and told him that I was one of the lucky ones--others had been laid off. That shut him up, but only just.

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    1. Ooooh, I don't know how I would have replied to that guy. You were nice!

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  23. not to mention shelf reading (you know, arranging all the books after being rampaged or should i say molested by clients) plus all the harsh words whenever you say "its 6 PM an the library is about to close"...

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    1. I don't mind shelf-reading, but harsh words do sting sometimes. :)

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  24. When I was in 3rd grade the public librarian would come to my school (which was in an old victorian house with 4 floors and twirly staircases) with huge tote bags FULL of hardcover books. She would show up while we were outside at recess and set up the books around the room, leaning up against the walls and against the little stairs that divided one end of the room from another. TONS OF BOOKS! And we'd freak out with excitement! And, you know what?! She lugged everything by herself. EVEN IN THE SNOW! Probably because she knew we'd be sad if she didn't show up just because it snowed. That must have been stressful! Disappointing a bunch of kids is stressful! Thank you for dealing with that stress. I think you're great. - Michelle S!

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    1. MICHELLE! That's such a sweet story! I'm sure she didn't even mind lugging books in the snow for the kids(I know I wouldn't). Thank you for sharing that. :)

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  25. Wow, these responses are amazing! I work in a public library in a country town. We work alone and are so lucky not to have some of these horror scenarios happening. I couldn't imagine not feeling safe in my library.
    I agree with lots of the comments. We are like teachers, we are the educators, nurses, counsellors, cleaning ladies, social workers, babysitters and so much more and that is before we pick up a book and do our actual jobs.
    I am lucky and to those who deal with these horrible events in their libraries, I wish you all the best.

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    1. Thank you. I think that's just the point...people aren't AWARE. I am really not trying to complain or "whine." I just want people to know that it's not always quiet, it's not always pleasant, and it's not always stress-free. That's all. Just let us do our jobs and we'll be happy. :)

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  26. I'm an academic librarian and I have had to call security to remove people who were ranting and swearing--another librarian was flashed. Recently "someone" on campus tried to tell us that it was our job to keep track of a person who was barred from campus via restraining order--since our security people are elderly men, I guess we look pretty capable but we said absolutely not to that one. We have had fights break out between students after racial slurs were thrown about. All this for about half what they claim I make.

    Today my daughter reported that a man flew into a rage at the public library because teens were making noise--in the young adult section of the library during a craft program. The librarian had to call security to intervene since the guy was shouting and swearing and saying that he had been in the military and needed quiet to work--talk about job stress! Most people have stressful things happen on their jobs--we are just fortunate to have enough good stuff happen to outweigh the bad.

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    1. One of the people who lived next door to our library called us to complain that someone in our parking lot was watching her house. We suggested that the police, not the library, were the ppl to call. She said "I can't call the police, he'll come hurt me and my family! YOU have to do something about it right now!"

      Cuz everybody knows librarians are really ninjas.

      Delete
  27. I totally agree with the comments. However, the list seems to me not neccesarily particular to librarians.

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    1. True. And it's not. But it DOES happen to librarians, which is the point.

      Delete
  28. ON top of all this, how about physical stress? A huge number of librarians I know have back problems or RSI as a direct result of their jobs.

    TO be honest, for me as the director of a medium sized library I hate the way people forget that I am basically a CEO of a small non-profit. I am a manager with all the stresses that come with that title. I am the chief fundraiser, I control budgets and my ass is on the line if we are over. I am the creative lead, performance analyst, event planner, publicist, literacy expert, library spokesperson and whenever anything, ever, goes wrong it is totally my fault. I get sick of being told how to do my job by people who think they know how a library "should" be run (almost none of whom actually ever set foot in a library, they just heard somewhere from someone that libraries are all going to the dogs and/or are crap compared to google), and get annoyed that I don't have copies of every book ever in print available at their leisure. I'm constantly on call during open hours, and 50 hour weeks (unpaid overs) are not uncommon during busy periods.

    My husband works in software. His degree is lower than mine and he has no management responsibility and a lot less stress. He earns 25% more than I do. And his employers give him beer.


    Don't get me wrong, my job is awesome and I create work for myself by having this fabulous idea that I then need to go find funding for, but that's only because I really do care about libraries - and that in itself can be stressful when you constantly have to justify your own existence.

    I know this career is no where near as difficult as some others out there, and as someone above said the good tends to outweigh the bad, but thinking that being a librarian is stress free? My gods, Tony Lee has obviously never worked with the public.

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    1. I agree with everything you said. I love my job. I am glad that it's my job. There are many, many, many, jobs that are more stressful. Not one librarian would deny that. But if someone is going to say that we don't work, we need to tell them that they are wrong. (Also, where can I sign up for a job that will provide beer??)

      Delete
    2. Alberta, Canada!

      Did I mention the free pizza along side the beer?

      Delete
  29. Thank you. We passed around that "least stressful jobs" article at our public library workplace yesterday, a workplace that has been nothing but screaming patrons (in person, on phone and in threatening emails...), inaccurate news articles (specifically about us, not just this charming work study...), budget and renovation worries, and all the other issues you've catalogued (ha ha) so well. We laughed when we read the article, while also hoping for a librarian firestorm to take this writer to task. Way to go. firestarter.

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  30. Well written. We do work HARD!!

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  31. Replies
    1. Aaaaand here we go. There are people saying how we should just ignore these "throwaway" articles on these "meaningless" websites, but when things like Forbes and CNBC pick them up, people thing they have credence. If we don't "correct" them, who will?

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  32. Public school librarians are also subject to the same type of misinformation. Wish I had made money for every time a teacher came in and said, "I didn't know you had this", or "Do you have this book?" and it's a Caldecott/Newbery or some other award winner, and they think all we do is check books in/out and shelve them. Sigh.

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  33. Reading Jennifer's comment (way up near the top) made me feel like she was speaking about my library, exactly. Can't tell you how many times I've tried to help people who were told to find something here.

    Great post, I've passed it on to my friends and encouraged them to share it with the less informed out there.

    What's stress? Talking to the local mayor and him being more concerned about staff bringing in holiday goodies for themselves than he was about our budget being cut to ribbons. Priorities???

    Most people who haven't worked at a library, or listen to a close friend who works at a library, haven't a clue how hard our job really is. I go home exhausted because I've had to have my public persona on all day. Not as many "warm fuzzies" as the Forbes article seems to suggest, the few we get are far between!

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  34. I had forgotten some of the things my public librarian friends have to deal with. School librarians have some of the same issues such as budget cuts, being understaffed, and having parents and students be rude and obnoxious at times. We also have great times when we read a story that resonates with the students or recommend books that kids come back and rave about. We have a rapt audience when we teach students about Internet safety, censorshipship and intellictual property rights-topics they don't learn about any where else. Overall, I still love my job, stresses and all.

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  35. The article listed 9 to 5 hours as part of a low stress job. Um, no? Public and college librarians routinely work nights and weekends. I have to say I love, love my job, and DO hear the regular thanks from patrons, but I'd like to send a week's worth of incident reports to that reporter. And we're a medium-sized suburban library! I hope you're all following the Twitter response-we're trending!

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    1. I have some issues with the "librarian stress" hashtag as it was apparently created as a "joke" (sarcasm against librarians talking about their stress). I don't really support that, so I am not involved with the hashtag in any way. That said, I'm glad the issue is getting some attention! Thanks.

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  36. bah. would you like a little cheese with your whine? i've been a librarian for 30 years. it's a lot less stressful than my brother, who's a cop, or his best friend, who's a fireman.

    challenge is what makes my job great and what keeps me interested.

    it's a glass half full thing.

    much better to be challenged than to be bored.

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    1. Hi, "Anonymous"! Thanks for your input. Sadly, I feel that you've missed the point of my post. Challenge is great. I love challenge, and it is indeed better to be chanllenged than to be bored. There is, I feel, a difference between challenge and stress, and most jobs have both - including librarians!

      To me, it's not a contest. Being a cop is stressful. I wouldn't be able to do it, for sure. But that doesn't make being a librarian NOT stressful sometimes. Know what I mean? There are different levels of stress, and it's all relative. I love the job and all the stressors that come with it. But I want people to know the reality so that they don't think we are just sitting around.

      I'd hope that a librarian of 30 years would want to support his/her fellow librarians and say "Yes! We work hard and deserve a LITTLE respect and not have ridiculous media perceptions color the way that people view us." That's all I am really trying to say. Thanks again.

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    2. My brother is a firefighter. We both respect each others' jobs. He was in the wildfires in Texas last year and it was a scary reminder of what he faces every day. I tell him stories from work and he is always amazed at how much we do with so little. I know his job is dangerous, he knows mine is stressful and crazy! Stress/danger depends a lot on where you work. I've interviewed at some small town libraries that were flabbergasted at the idea of the police arresting a regular patron with heroin, breaking up a fight with 5th graders trying to strangle each other (literally) or being trapped behind a desk with a suddenly crazy guy ranting that we were allowing the justice department to track him. On the other hand, all of these things (and more) happen at my library - which is a small, semi-rural town of 10,000 people. Some of the small libraries in our area probably are less stressful to work at, but on the other hand, a lot of patrons from other towns come to us because our library offers more programming, resources, and a friendly environment that welcomes everyone (except when the police are tackling flashers on the stairs).

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    3. Hi Anonymous,

      I don't think anyone was saying that librarians have stressier jobs than people in the emergency services, and since I have family and friends doing that job, I would not presume to know what parts of their job was stressful, and what wasn't.

      I also know that within the term "police officer" there are a thousand different jobs. A beat cop has different stresses to a police chief. A police trainer deals with different issues to a detective inspector. Not all police jobs are stressful in the sense that their lives are at risk. Some are stressful because they are drowning in paperwork or have a shitty boss.

      I am really glad that your post as a librarian is challenging rather than stressful. Mine is both, so please don't presume that my job is the same as yours, or that I am not rising to the challenge when I stop and think that some boredom would make a really nice change to my work schedule.

      Finally, please don't belittle those people who do find their work as a librarian stressful. I've had to manage several incidents in the past when people went off with work-related stress. It can be hard to admit when you are struggling at your job, and if you are met with a chorus of "oh my God what have you got to be stressed about? You're only a librarian." then people are even less likely to ask for help.

      Delete
  37. As if to prove a point: about an hour ago there was an example of the potential for danger that exists in public libraries. A patron was having a conversation with people only she could hear (no Bluetooth, I looked), dropping constant f-bombs and growing louder in her arguments. Assessing the situation, I decided to leave her alone, thinking that any comment from me could set her off more. Patrons at the public computers kept looking at her and at me. Then she started shaking her arm violently, as if she was shaking off someone's hand. I stayed where I could see her, but again left her alone. All at once she yelled and spun the DVD stand around, throwing DVDs all over the place. At that point I had to step in and ask her to leave. Fortunately, she walked off, but you just never know how people will react. Three patrons came over to help me pick up the DVDs, then went back to their computers. We've all seen people like this, and no one really knows how to handle it. We just try not to get slugged.

    There are too many people out there who are either "off their meds" or "on something", and the public library is a "safe place" for more than one reason (police, rain/snow/cold, etc.).

    I think the biggest problem is the article's definition of stress. Normally, I don't consider my work place dangerous (with exceptions like today). But it's not just the dangerous that are stressful, just as it's not just the physical that results in worker's comp issues (carpal tunnel, anyone?). Stress is probably not the most appropriate word the authors (CareerCast and others) could have used.

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  38. The frequency of uninformed and misleading news articles about our work is infuriating, especially in a time when we need the support of the public and elected officials to continue serving the community. Anyway you expressed that so well in this post. Thank you for all you do and for speaking up against this nonjournalism with class.

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  39. I'm a public librarian, and I do experience many of the stresses that you and your commenters also experience, but that being said, I think you all missed the point of the original careercast article. It wasn't looking for stress-free jobs, just the jobs with the LEAST stress. Have you looked at their list of the MOST stressful jobs? Would any of us trade our jobs in the library for one of those? Military jobs, police, firefighters, taxi drivers, photojournalists in war zones, corporate CEOs, etc. So sure, librarians do experience stress, but relatively speaking, I do believe, on average librarians do experience less stress than most other professions. And I'm quite happy to be a librarian! Naturally there are exceptions. It's obviously the case that some librarians work in very stressful environments. But remember, we're talking averages here. The average librarian simply has less stress than the average police officer, and I defy anyone to argue otherwise.

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    1. Me again, I'm replying to my own post. I just read Rita's answer to another 'Anonymous' above and she makes a good point about how the author of the original article seems to dismiss library work as simple and carefree. I'll acknowledge those points. My only argument is that perhaps we DO belong in the list of least stressful jobs on the planet. The author could have been a bit less dismissive of the stresses that do exist, however.

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    2. I appreciate your response. I disagree that we belong on the "least" stressful list - but I also think that that sort of list shouldn't exist in the first place. It's demeaning to ANYONE who works. I don't care what the job is. In any event, I was really just railing against the actual points the "author" of that "article" was making - because it touches on the misconceptions about librarians that are RAMPANT. If you (the general "you") don't think dealing with the public is at all stressful, fine. I'm not going to try to change your mind. But Lee's "arguments" (like "books don't talk back" and "their stress is not your tress" were so weak and wrong that I could just not stay silent. So, it's really more about discussing what librarians actually DO than it is to complain about how librarians are stressed. I hope that makes sense.

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    3. Yeah, stress is subjective and depends where you work - it's his total ignorance on what being a librarian entails that galls. (the university professor one is pretty bad too, and I assume the others are equally poorly researched and described)

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  40. Looking at the sites where Tony Lee is listed, I see no credentials for him, or anything substantive for the websites regarding reliability and authority. By association, this does not say much for http://www.cnbc.com. My students would know to "dismiss" this source for any information.

    Tina Hudak, Teacher-Librarian
    Washington, D.C.

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  41. Not stressful huh? I'd like him to have a word with my doctor who has just referred me to a therapist for my stress and depression due to job related stress. I work long hours, for little pay and I'm expected to be everything to everyone and put up with being called a bitch, insulted about my intelligence when people don't get their way and put up with people saying how nice it must be to sit on your ass all day and read books. I don't read. I have no time to read. I work solidly from the moment I get in to the moment I leave often taking no lunch break. I'm not looking for a parade either but I want people to stop belittling what we do. And thank yous .... I've not heard one in a very long time.

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    1. And just to add... I love my job. Sure the stress can be overwhelming but I love what I do and I wouldn't change it for the World. I've very lucky to work in an industry with such amazingly quirking and intelligent people who understand my crazed need for order. Librarians are awesome and anyone who doesn't agree can go take a flying leap.

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    2. I tremendously enjoyed your article, it resonates even in the french-speaking world of libraries (and archives too). I think most librarians in France, Switzerland, Belgium would echo the same concerns over such a blatant ignorance of our profession. Of course, there are some cultural differences, I believe that Anglo-Saxon libraries (read US, Canada, UK, Australia) are more adequately prepared to face the challenges ahead and more accessible to modern patrons.

      Not to belittle the amazing French institutions like the French national library (BNF), the Pompidou Center Library (BPI) and many more however I think (and should) also voice their stress factors... : fear of budget cuts, stereotypes of the profession, dealing with the public and technology issues. When I was in library school in Switzerland, many of our teachers were also professional librarians; they mentioned several times how much work there is still to be done to raise public awareness to the importance of libraries for our communities. Unfortunately, in countries like Switzerland, there is little lobbying or real outspoken voices for librarian concerns over their job and their workplace.

      Myself, I have heard so many times that being a librarian was "easy" because I was "surrounded by books all day" and that answering queries from the same old drooling-lecher-patron every Sunday was nothing compared to the tranquil benefits of my job. I disagree, there is more to being a librarian than just shelving books and "lounging around" at the reference desk all day... And I still hear similar comments often. The general public is not the main problem, the librarian career is not often mentioned in Swiss media nor are the evolutions we have had to deal with for the last decade. As a example, the librarians of the province of Geneva have not had a pay raise for almost 20 years but the daily workload has been steadily augmenting since then.

      Nevertheless, I will contact a few french-speaking colleagues and attempt to raise similar awareness in our community! Many thanks again for your blog and your sharp-straight-to-the-point personality!

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  42. We shouldn't forget the stress caused by Board of Trustees

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  43. A really smart list. I left library service about a year and a half ago because my husband and I needed to move to a new town. I miss the constant stream of questions and new ideas and room for intellectual growth, but I didn't realize how much the five things on your list had worn me down until I was able to step away from them.

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  44. What a great post! I'm not a librarian, but I do appreciate the job they do. I love libraries. And, as a teacher, I can relate to many of the things on your list.

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  45. In our local newspaper today there was a story about a father who had an argument with his baby mama at a downtown branch of the public library system (not the one I work in thankfully, but the the adjacent system is literally just down the road & across the county line). He took the baby away from her while they were still in the library and ran off with it, leading to a police hunt around the area. A library patron actually followed him to try to help the baby, but couldn't keep up. If that's not a stressful situation for librarians, I don't know what is. Someone needs to send this to Mr. Tony Lee.

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  46. Thanks for this article, I work in an academic library and much of it rings true. Whilst we may not be shot at or have to go into burning buildings, having the students anonymously threatening staff on facebook and telling us they know where we live is not entirely stress-free.

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  47. Good article Rita!
    I'm not sure how they figured out the average salary amount, but I bet it wasn't based on what the average public librarian in the U.S. makes! You guys are grossly underpaid in the U.S., Canada is a bit better in major centres, smaller centres generally don't even have an MLIS on staff.

    Also, I'd add that another factor in the job security vein is the fact that so many of us are TEMPS. I get laid off for four months of the year and hope during that time that I'll qualify for EI and that I'll be invited back to work another contract round. All of this means I can't plan my life and do major things like have kids because I have no job security and no guarantee of an income.

    Which. is. stressful.

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  48. In Austria, in 2004, there was a big political discussion about early retirement and who should be eligible for it. So there was an official list of jobs produced, ranked by physical labour, work environment, and stress - librarians were the last. I would of course agree that being a construction worker or furnace worker is more exhausting than being a librarian, but why does the social insurance assume that librarian is less exhausting than various office jobs?

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  49. How about this one...my friend worked at a library in a small town, she was 16 and manned the whole library BY HERSELF for 4-5 hours a day and her constant problem was homeless men coming in and watching porn on the computers. She wasn't allowed to do anything about it because the city didn't want any blocks on the computers. Many of them were mentally unstable. That's not stressful at all, right???

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  50. after i had a major breakdown and i was dragged from my home and job across the country by my biological family out of some misguided, untrue desire to "take care of" me, several people suggested i get a job at the library. it's quiet, they said. no one will bother you.

    i didn't have a degree of any kind, so i don't know what i would've been doing, if i had been hired.

    i expected to be on my feet all day. i think i assumed i'd be putting books back and fixing the shelves and doing random tasks, such as cleaning the bathroom, but it wasn't explained on the application.

    the only low stress job i've ever had was my minimum wage gig as a ride operator at an amusement park. my stress included one kid barfing everywhere once, and one father beating the crap out of his son for not wanting to get on a ride. the latter, pretty stressful, triggering, and completely awful. thankfully that was the only abusive parent i encountered, and i didn't have to clean up the barf, so over the whole season, i'd say it was pretty good, compared to, say, my retail jobs and tech support.

    i got threats of being killed, shot, blown up, sued, fired, and screamed and cursed out on a regular basis while doing tech support. nice job of sitting on my ass, playing on the internet between calls. minus all that other stuff, that made me have panic attacks 3x+/day.

    it was directly after the tech support that everyone wanted me to do the library. i want to say it probably would have been better, because i wouldn't have been in charge, or responsible for 100+ people a day who think the world is my fault? but that's a wacked out comparison, anyway.

    i can't think of any jobs that really are low stress that pay over minimum wage off the top of my head, unless you've ascended the ranks in a corporation far enough that most of your shit is done by peons and you need to wrangle the peons, but with the economy being as it is, and corps laying off swathes of people? nope.

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  51. Well, of course there are stresses; there are stresses in every job. But it's all relative. I've worked in a public library, school libraries and hospital libraries. I've also been a physiotherapist. As far as stress levels go - between being a physio and a librarian there is no comparison. In some jobs, you get people swearing at you. In others, you get people dying on you. Yes, we're underpaid but that's balanced by quality of life. Yes there is little job security but that's the same almost anywhere. Get over yourself and be thankful that you get to spend each day doing a wonderful, stimulating job.

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    1. Please, show me where I've said that being a librarian is THE MOST stressful job. Show me where I made comparisons and said that we have it WORSE than anyone else. Show me where I made comparison. Show me where I asked for pity or said that I hated my job. I'll wait.

      You can't, because I didn't. I am extremely thankful for what I do. That's why I want to keep doing it. And that's only going to happen if people continue to think that libraries have a purpose. So, thanks, I will not "get over myself."

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    2. The whole point of the article is to rank the 'least' and 'most' stressful jobs!

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    3. I would like to also point out that as public librarians, we see the same people nearly every day. We get to know them & care about them, especially our older patrons. Those older patrons sometime die. Librarians may not have patrons die in the library, but when you lose someone that you see nearly every day, that can be emotionally stressful too. Even though you may not be related to them, they are still "family."

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  52. I'm a 21 yr old clerk (the youngest by far at my branch) and take a lot of harassment due to my age, from people thinking that screaming at me will intimidate me into changing there due dates,finding a material (which we don't have) or lowering their fines, to single and divorced men hitting on me in an uncomfortable manner (some with their kids present!!) There are also the masses who purposely confuse information or act dense because they think its funny.
    It is not uncommon for me to leave with a headache, and this is much better then when I worked as a shelver!!

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  53. Great post. My husband is a police officer and I'm a childrens librarian in a very busy family community and we talk all the time about how my job is way more stressful day to day. Sure, he has his moments in his job, but they are far and between, mine are every our from open to close.

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  54. Amen to every word of this! I worked in public libraries for 18 years, and finally had to leave because a) I couldn't find a permanent position (the only one I was offered was 8 hours a week, believe it or not. I took it), and was living off subbing, b) I found out the sub budget was about to be slashed, along with our hours, and c) the behavior problems were getting steadily worse, to the point that Security and/or the police were getting called every other day. I retrained as a paralegal and currently work an open-ended temp job in a law office, making more money per year than I ever did as a librarian. Frequently I miss the library world, especially the fun of delivering an answer to an obscure question the patron doesn't really think anyone can solve. Then I remember the stress of dealing with rude, impatient, demanding, sometimes mentally-ill people and faulty equipment all day, while wondering if I'd get enough sub hours to pay my rent, and I feel much better about wasting my MLS degree.

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  55. I agree with you and my other fellow librarians. I can't add much that has not already been said-and may I add "said logically and intelligently." Thanks for all your hard work and for spreading the word of what librarianship really means! I am an academic librarian who truly cares abut the students. I care that they have the right resources to successfully finish their assignments and I care about their future. I care they become life long learners. But I experience the stress that comes from budget cuts and from people who don't care that I care.

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  56. I love my job. I am a public librarian who works with all ages in a bustling downtown library. We serve well over a thousand patrons daily, some new faces and some regulars, all coming to the library to access free information. Whether via using a computer, attending programs, or checking out materials, the librarian plays a pivotal role as the information provider, the gate keeper as you will. Taking into consideration the many different roles librarians play, comparing levels of job stress with such a broad stroke is simply unfair and unjust to the people of the profession.

    Librarians and associates in different settings around the world will have varying levels of stress. Some have meltdowns after being harassed at work, mentally, physically and emotionally. Others look in horror at hearing such stories from colleagues working in another library environment.

    Your five factors superbly point out core commonalities that librarians of all sorts must face, just with varying degrees and personal stories to back them up, as the comments have shown. There is a self-awareness already in place among most librarians about stress factors in the work place. And articles that misinform the public about the profession will immediately cause a stir of emotions, a rage of 'oh no he didn't say that' and so on.

    We do so much, take on so much stress, because we love our jobs. Sometimes, and unfortunately quite often nowadays, the patrons we serve simply do not love us back.

    I wonder in the long run how can we better inform their respective communities of what librarians do for them? And in the end, I'd hope we create more positive support for the seemingly ever increasingly stressed out librarian.

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  57. I love being a library worker. I deal with wonderful people oftentimes -- it can be very rewarding. I work with the homeless, who are often mentally ill. I work with patrons who just need someone to yell at. I deal with those who take the 'servant' part of 'public servant' much too seriously.I can be a target for those at the bottom of the heap as well as bling heavy soccer Moms who are frustrated that day. I deal with runny nose kids and bedbug infested elders and everything in between.

    I help people access free knowledge and entertainment in greater numbers and with less fellow staff member assistance than just a few years ago. Our board of trustees is oblivious unless it includes cost cutting.

    Your post shows you experientially understand. Thanks, Rita -- raising awareness is crucial in our field.

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  58. Okay. . . i'll add my story and Tony can judge whether this was a stress-creating situation or not. Working in a busy urban library as librarian-in-charge on a Friday night, I discover a passed out man in an out-of-the-way corner of the library. We routinely wake up sleepers and this guy was making a funny raspy-i-can't-breathe-sound. The empty large bottle of pills and a block printed note fell off his lap as I jostled him to wake him. Yup; suicide attempt. Call 911, follow up on operator instructions on attempting to keep breathing passage open, wait for ambulance attendants while at the same time trying to keep the area free from onlookers and general library operation undisrupted, stay after hours to write an incident report and to call the library director so she wouldn't have to read the story in the paper instead of hearing about it from me first, in case the guy died (thankfully, he didn't), go home, DRINK WINE and be glad it's the weekend!

    Granted, this type of thing is not a daily occurrence in any library but dealing with difficult people with all kinds of social and mental problems is par for the course. I happen to believe that these folks, too, have a right to use the library but making it all work and trying to balance the vastly different needs of library users is a huge challenge for those of us dedicated to working in libraries. (And i use the word "dedicated" on purpose. . . you have to be dedicated to do it 'cause you sure don't do it for the money).

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  59. Um, yeah. Yesterday my library had two people get sick in two different parts of the building and a very unfortunate "potty accident" in the kids' room. Talk about the stresses of dealing with the public!

    If I were "in control of my day" like that article claims I am, we wouldn't have had to clean carpets and air out the library yesterday.

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    1. The mom helped clean up our vomit incident on Monday. Usually my parents are pretty good! I don't know where the mysterious stain came from that appeared yesterday though. Or our third broken window in the last two months...

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  60. O true librarianship doesn't only mean the four corners of a room filled with books and computers rather it is a place intended for research and other educational purposes.It is not an easy job rather its is challenging and multitasking to sum it up :)

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  61. Thank you I have been seething about that article since I read it. Obviously the article wasn't well researched or anyone he actually spoke to has never: been abused, had things thrown at them, had to deal with people watching porn on public PCs because they 'have to research it for a PhD paper', had a member of the public attempt to commit suicide in the library toilets, had to be responsible for children left in the library, had to break up fights between patrons, needed to prevent teens from having sex in the library, had the General Manager demand research for something that would normally take 3 days be delivered in the next 20 minutes, attempt to do the work of 3 people themselves, and the list goes on. I am responsible for an entire department, am a qualified librarian but am employed as a semi-professional - to add to it the customer service staff at my organisation earn more than I do, even though they don't need any qualifications and despite the fact that I also deal with the general public. I would like the wider community to understand what it is we actually do and what we are expected to do with so little, articles like the one being discussed don't help.

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  62. I don't see any comments from Law Firm Librarians so I'll just chime in to say that obviously Tony Lee has never set foot inside a law firm library. I am a solo librarian and I serve 50 attorneys (some in offices in other locations). So while I don't have to deal with the "public" I do have to deal will a lot of very time sensitive research and document requests -- often things are needed in the next hours for use at a trial or for a client. It's possible that the attorney who needs the information for a trial holds someones life in his hands! While I technically have control over my day -- which I like -- I never know when a request will come in or how many. Some days I have a lot of time to work on managerials stuff, other days I am run off my feet meeting the needs of multiple attorneys. I love it -- don't get me wrong. I it is certainly not the most stressful job in the world, but as you say it isn't the least -- and why are we ranking anyway.

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  63. Librarians may not be responsible for "saving lives" in the CPR/AED sense (although at my library we do have the option to receive training for that), but we "save lives" by helping people find jobs (meaning that then they can feel valued or maybe have healthcare that *will* save their life). We also save civilization by providing educational opportunities, without which our society would shrivel up and die. Sometimes life/death isn't just about the quantity or length of life. Librarians focus on improving *quality* of life for individuals and communitities, which I would argue can sometimes be even more important.

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  64. As a new student to Library and Information studies... This scares me

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    1. I don't know about that. I've been a librarian for 20 years myself and lots of these other folks have been even longer. There's gotta be some reason for that if low-stress, high pay, and glamorous star appeal aren't on the list. If you like helping people, then helping really stupid or rotten people should give you a really great feeling because they REALLY need help.

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    2. Don't be scared! Just realize that these things might happen. If you're in library school, you're there for a reason. Follow that reason.

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  65. I just started my MLIS last summer. When most people hear that I am doing this, they give me a reaction that makes it seem like libraries are obsolete. I don't even have a job in a library yet, and already I have to defend my choice to pursue it every five minutes.

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  66. Well said ! obviously tony has never been in a library when a patron is screaming at you because it's your fault he owes 40 cents, or tells you blow me ! because he can't get on a computer. low stress my @#%, most of us have ulcers from this job and morale is awful thanks for defending it.

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    1. I had a guy throw his money at me and call me a blood-sucking leech because we said he had to pay his $5 fine. Note for new librarians - coins HURT when they hit you in the face.

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  67. I've been a public librarian for 3 years now, and even I had misconceptions about the position when I first heard about library school after obtaining my Bachelor's degree. "You need a Master's degree to be a librarian? Why?" Boy, was I ever set straight when I entered library school. And even now as I work as a supervising librarian, I'm reminded of all that we do even for male patrons who like to hit on young, female librarians. (Newsflash: We're nice to you because it's our job, not because we like you. Don't you DARE ask if I'm single because that's classified information.) Our job does carry a lot of stress, but I just hope the public realizes what we do to help the community whether for children, teens, or adults.

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  68. Beautifully said! I could not agree more. My personal stressors: dealing with folks I meet at cocktail parties, social functions and the like who, upon learning that I am a librarian, reply with some variation of, "Oh, libraries will all be closing now, since I have a Kindle."

    Right. Tell that to the long line of folks waiting in line.

    Best of all are the folks who show up, and annoyed at having to wait in line say, "Gee... is this place always is busy?" in a tone of astonishment - this clearly wasn't the sleepy little study center/waste of taxpayer dollars that they were expecting.

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  69. Thanks for your comments, guys! I'm so glad this is being discussed.

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  70. Look, if you think librarianship is stressful then I suggest you avoid the "real" world at all costs. After eight years as a librarianship I'm still shocked when colleagues complain about stress. It's been my experience that the "stressed" are largely from a group that have never held any other sort of professional position outside of a library. All jobs have some stress. Most professional positions that require a college degree have a lot more stress than this.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, "Anonymous." However, you make a lot of assumptions. I can't speak for anyone else, but I personally HAVE held corporate jobs. I've also taught students (which was by FAR the most stressful thing I've ever done). Like I've stated many times, the point is not that librarians have the most stressful job in the world. The point is, as you even said, that all jobs have stress - including being a librarian. For people to think that there is no stress is incorrect. If YOU are lucky enough to work in a library that offers NO stress, I applaud you. But that is not the case for all librarians (as evidenced by many of these comments). Please don't assume that all experiences are like your own.

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  72. i am elle and i want to thank Dr ALuta for bringing back my ex husband, we broke up for more than 4 month and he told me that he will never want to see me in his life again. i love him so much to the extend that i could not do any thing again, i was confused and depress due to the love i had for him.i did everything i could do to have him come back to me but all went in vain. so i decided to contact a spell caster, i did not believe in spell casting i just want to try it may be it would work out for me. i contacted dr Aruvi for help, he told me that he have to cast a love spell on him, i told him to it. after 5 days my called me and started to apologize for leaving me and also he told me that he still love me. i was very happy and i thank dr Aruvi for helping get back my ex husband back to my hands. his spell is the the greatest all over the world, it was the love spell he cast on my ex that make him come back to me. all you ladies who want back the ex husband back i want you to contact Dr Aruvi at the following email address and get all your problem solve..No problem is too big for him to solve..Contact him direct at freemercifultemple@yahoo.com and get your problems solve like me

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  73. Agree with every point made in the rebuttal. After 35 years in the trenches I was so glad to get out! While there were very satisfying interactions, over the years more and more staff were lost, we got more and more unbalanced folks coming in (thank you, politicians, for reducing the funding for mental health services) and so on.
    It's interesting that someone made the comment that most complainers about how stressful libraries are have never worked outside one. I found that to be true. But I did for a long while. I'd go back to a challenging legal post in a heartbeat before I would go back to public service in a library.

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  74. I just found your blog and am glad I did! I retired from my librarian job a year ago, after 30 years, feeling rather burned out despite having loved the work. Anyone who deals with the public has stress.

    And nothing quite equals the experience of having to stop two men in their 80s from fighting over a newspaper. It was in the mid-'80s and they were having a tug of war. The sound of ripping paper was what alerted me to the problem. Libraries used to keep magazines on hanging wood poles. We ended up getting rid of those after one patron tried to bean another with one of the poles. Now the fighting is over computer appointments. We had one patron who sat at the computer with a pair of scissors. I lost count of how many headphone and mouse cables he cut through before we realized who was doing it and stopping him. Then there was the woman who claimed she had multiple personalities and each one deserved a computer appointment. I was cursed over the phone and in person. Then there were the roaches crawling out of returned books. Most people were nice, but the few who weren't felt like the majority at times. I miss the work, but I don't miss the stress.

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  75. Any job where you work with the public is very, very stressful. In the public library stratosphere the librarians are now on the desk most of the time and expected to do all the other work required for your job. At my previous employer I was a supervisor on the desk much of my time, interrupted when I was off desk and then put in charge of library all the time. It's unreasonable and definitely not productive for the employee. I gave up years ago developing myself as a youth librarian. You had to do that on your own time. I remember reading a study years and years ago that after more than four hours on the desk your efficiency in the job decreased as the hours piled on. No one pays attention that reality anymore. We are all too busy competing for the very few jobs out there. And I haven't even talked to you about the people shooting up heroin in the men's room.....

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