The Most Annoying Thing About My Job: Librarians Tell All


From The Atlantic. Four librarians and a few teachers tell readers about their major employment gripes:

Librarian #1

I'm a librarian in a public library that's part of a larger system. The most annoying thing about my job is the lack of support in the most public aspect of my work from managers and administration. Patron behavior expectations have been reduced, primarily because it is seen as a hassle to enforce rules of behavior. Even the rules of behavior we have, like wearing shirt and shoes in the building, are seen by the administration as too much trouble to enforce if no patron complains. Which means that if I see a situation, even if it's in direct opposition to posted policy, I can't be sure I won't be reprimanded, perhaps in public, by my own boss for enforcing the policy. Yet I've also been told I was letting some patrons (that I couldn't hear at the central desk) get too loud, so it's a sort of being stuck on a morton's fork.*

Librarians are professionals, and enforcing the rules is part of what one takes on when working with public. Without support for enforcing even the most basic rules, there are really no guidelines at all. I suppose any job where you are told to take initiative to ensure a public building is pleasant for everyone (repeatedly, enthusiastically, urgently), yet reprimanded for enforcing the very rules that are supposed to make a public building pleasant for everyone would make anyone feel insane. No wonder one of our break room topics is who is taking which antidepressant.

*"morton's fork", via wikipedia: A Morton's Fork is a choice between two equally unpleasant alternatives (in other words, a dilemma), or two lines of reasoning that lead to the same unpleasant conclusion. It is analogous to the expressions "between the devil and the deep blue sea," "between a rock and a hard place," or, as those in the Spanish-speaking world say, "between a sword and a wall."


Failing to enforce the rules uniformly is just asking to get sued for discrimination.

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