Does the job end when you get home?
This question comes to us from someone considering library school and in whose current career the answer would be “no.” Long hours at work, more hours at home, stress rarely ending, etc. I’ll give my thoughts on the question but feel free to leave other opinions in the comments. This might be the opportunity to persuade or dissuade someone from entering the profession.
Obviously this depends on the type of work. In an academic library, the difference between reference librarians, especially those who support academic departments, and catalogers is sometimes obvious.
Catalogers might work long hours, but when they leave the library they can’t really catalog anymore, so the day is done. Reference librarians often work evenings but when they’re done they’re done..
All this gets tossed aside in academic libraries where the librarians have faculty status. Then the pressure of research agendas might mean that work in some sense is never done.
And once you move into administration or IT, one never knows. Those systems librarians are sometimes always on call.
In public libraries, it would be about the same, except for the lack of a need to publish.
However, this depends on the size of the community. In smaller cities and towns, the library director and perhaps other librarians would be known quantities. They might be stopped in the grocery store and asked questions. They might appear at local events to promote the library.
The informal work might even be extensive if the director is motivated, but it’s perhaps different from having several hours of dedicated work after going home.
It also depends on the impact you want to make on the profession. Do you want to be a mover and shaker, or do you want to remain in happy obscurity? There’s no shame in obscurity, but moving and shaking requires work outside of the library, or longer hours within the library.
And then there are some common professional things many librarians do on top of their day jobs. They might write blogs or do a lot of public speaking. Obviously this is a small percentage of the profession, because there are always more readers and students and audience members than there are writers, teachers, and speakers. But this takes time, usually not work time.
Depending on the library and type of work, it is certainly possible for librarians to show up for work and then set it aside when they get home, although it might not be desirable.
Or am I wrong and librarians are working all day and then going home and working all night and it’s always stressful? What are the librarians you know like?