Apparently, being a librarian is one of the least stressful jobs for 2013, which is kind of odd considering 2013 is only a week old. How can we really know that yet?
Specifically, it’s the 9th least stressful job for 2013, right there between Drill Press Operator and Hair Stylist. With that kind of specificity, we know we’re dealing with science!
The other way we can tell we’re dealing with scientific analysts and serious journalism is that they present the information in slideshows instead of just giving us the list. Impressive!
A kind reader sent me this link to an “article” about the least stressful jobs in which we find out that Librarian is #9. Here’s what we find out about librarians:
Median Salary: $54,500
“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!
Books don’t talk back? What sort of clown writes this stuff?
You can tell this is serious investigative journalism, because the slideshow is copied from another slideshow at someplace called Careercast. The “Lee” quoted above spends his time career casting, which one would think would make the list of least stressful jobs considering that you apparently just make stuff up. Here’s what we find out from the librarian entry on the “original” list:
A peaceful atmosphere and unlimited access to literature makes librarian a welcoming career option for the bookish. Librarians have many careers paths at schools, colleges and universities, city/county funded libraries and in corporate research.
A welcoming career option for the bookish! I suppose it’s more welcoming for the bookish than careers like grocery store clerk or boxer, but how many of us spend our workdays reading books? Do librarians really have more access to literature than the average library patron?
I’m also not sure the most stressful thing a librarian faces is a teenager with a paper due when you don’t have the books, but even that situation can be stressful for some of the mild-mannered wallflowers who become librarians. They feel the teenager’s pain, and if not the teenager might start being really mean. That’s pretty stressful!
Supposedly, Librarian has a stress rating of 10.58, which is such a specific number it must be totally real and scientific. One of the commenters wrote, “REALLY??? I thought the 10.58 stress level was out of 10!” Apparently, lots of librarians agree.
That’s the conclusion I reached after reading this blog post Kind Reader included in the email on 5 Reasons Being a Librarian is Stressful.
The general five reasons are job security (or the lack of it), depleting resources, being short staffed, dealing with people, and perceptions/lack of respect.
Those can all be stressors if you let them be, but are any of those unique to librarianship?
One librarian quoted provided this reason: “Students who blame ME for not having the books/articles they need and therefore ruining their academic career and life.” Yeah, that’s pretty stressful until you compare it to, say, being shot at for a living (Enlisted Military Personnel was at the top of the Most Stressful Job list).
There were some quotes of more stressful things. Here are a couple of the worst:
Most librarians have a story about being called a ‘fucking bitch’ or being spat at because a book was overdue or missing.
I once had a student tell me she hoped I got raped, that was nice. Also many, many grown men shouting at me.
But do “most librarians” really have stories like that? I’ve never heard of a librarian being spat on or librarians having “many grown men” shouting at them. Are these typical cases, or the outliers?
I have experienced creepy men doing creepy things around me in libraries, but I’ve experienced the same kinds of things in stores or on the subway. That there are a lot of creepy men out there doesn’t mean that being a librarian is not a relatively stress-free job.
If you ignore the stupid descriptions of librarians and focus on the list title, things change. Calling Librarian one of the least stressful jobs doesn’t mean it’s not stressful. It’s just that there are a lot of jobs more stressful, like police officer, airline pilot, and firefighter, all on the most stressful list.
Despite the occasional librarian who apparently works in a hellhole of a library, would librarians in general have the nerve to compare their stress to that of police officers or firefighters?
People in those jobs routinely encounter potentially fatal situations. Some mean guy might yell at a librarian for having to pay a fine, but there’s little danger the mean guy will pull out a gun and shoot the librarian, as criminals sometimes do when they encounter the police.
Another stressed librarian gives as a reason that “sometimes, I’m the only librarian to answer questions and the line is often 3-5 pple long. Last time someone left the line.” 3-5 people in a line? And someone actually left it? OMG! Yeah, that’s almost as stressful as running into a burning building to try to save people.
Librarians really need some perspective on this. Librarians are never in gunfights with criminals, they never run into burning buildings in a professional capacity, they’re never trapped in the library when the library mine caves in, they never lose body parts in the library machinery, and they never have to worry about crashing their library into a mountainside.
All the complaining about stress says a lot more about the sort of people who become librarians than the sort of jobs librarians have.
Seriously, when you start to feel stressed as a librarian and are tempted to whine about it, think about what it would take to run into a burning building or respond to a violent domestic disturbance and consider how good you really have it.