Grumpy can be good. Or at least understandable. I understand grumpy, and could have called this blog Grumpy Librarian, except there was probably already a blog called that.
In Bowie, MD, some mornings they wake up Grumpy. Other mornings they just let her sleep. And last week they interviewed her for the local newspaper, where she complained that librarians are not babysitters.
Some people like to point out the completely obvious, even if they don’t know they’re doing so. This person was complaining about public libraries being filled with high school students during the after school hours. The horror!
It could be obvious that librarians aren’t babysitters because librarians are librarians, and they do librarianly things like clearing printer jams, not babysitter things like enforcing bedtimes.
It could also be obvious that librarians aren’t babysitters in this scenario because – and I guess this wasn’t obvious enough – high school students aren’t babies, as much as they look that way to our old and jaded eyes.
The babysitting question is almost legitimate if we changed up the story some and made the children in the library smaller and younger. If libraries were overwhelmed with unsupervised five-year-olds, then it might make sense to complain.
But these are high school students, and the biggest complaint from the library patron is that…they’re sitting down and taking up a lot of seats.
My god, this is definitely the sort of “abuse in our system” that we should thank the woman from uncovering. Teenagers wantonly sitting on chairs, and sometimes on the floor “with their classmates lying on the floor next to them resting their head in the sitting student’s lap.” It’s like something out of Clockwork Orange!
Seriously, this is the worst thing someone can complain about? Teenagers sitting in a library?
The people not complaining are the librarians, because as one of them says, “it is a public library and it is open to all.” They’re also not complaining because contrary to what the grumpy patron says, the librarians aren’t having to act as babysitters, because there are no babies around.
That’s important to note, because it’s pitched partly as a complaint on behalf of librarians, who are presumably too busy shushing each other to complain. Thank goodness they have concerned patrons to complain on their behalf.
“According to one librarian, parents either don’t trust their children to go home or the child is afraid to ride the bus home. How does that equate to the librarians’ responsibility? What happens if one of these children gets sick or injured in the library? Who would be responsible?”
What if a child got sick or injured? What if an adult got sick or injured? Oh no! Wait, I think the librarian can handle that. Dialing 911 will take care of most emergencies. Plus there’s probably a book on basic medical care somewhere in the library if worse comes to worst.
More concern about the poor librarians. “And, she added, ‘Tell me, what is a librarian’s hourly salary?’”
First, can you get an hourly salary? I suppose she means a librarian’s hourly pay rate.
It’s probably a matter of public record, but I’m not going to search for those records. Nevertheless, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for librarians is $55,370 per year or $26.62 per hour.
The median household income for Bowie was 99,105 according to a 2007 estimate, so it’s not exactly poor and probably pays its librarians reasonably well. So lets assume the median income for librarians is around $26 per hour.
The grumpy patron seemed to imply that librarians weren’t being paid enough to take on the awesome responsibility of babysitter.
According to UrbanSitter, the hourly rate for babysitters in Washington, D.C. is about $12.25. It’s probably a little less in Bowie, but maybe not. Thus, the median librarian is making a little more than twice what the median babysitter makes.
That’s kind of depressing in its own way, but it implies that babysitting isn’t overwhelming in its responsibilities, which is of course why we let teenagers do it, probably some of the teenagers sitting comfortably in the public library instead of standing in an alley doing drugs or something much, much worse.