Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Go Out and Be Inspirational!

Some people think the Annoyed Librarian is too negative. You know the people I’m talking about. All those librarians who claim to hate "anonymity" when they really just hate the AL, the ones who think librarians should always put on a happy face and just direct their feet to the sunny side of the street and all that kind of thing. Let’s try a sunny, happy AL today, and see if they change their tune. Today I’m going to write like the slap-happy librarian bloggers who like to praise everything to pieces and use lots of exclamation points. If those pathetic critics don’t come out cheering, I’ll go back to being the old AL.


What did you want to be when you grew up? How many of you lucky, lucky librarians are living the life of your childhood dreams? How many of you grew up wanting to be nothing more than a librarian…um…I mean…wanting nothing more than to be a librarian? Are there any arms waving furiously out there?

Actress Jennifer Garner may be living her adult dreams as a film and television star, but when she was young, she wanted to be a librarian, as she confesses in O, the Oprah Magazine. Why on earth would she want to do that? Because when she was a child, she thought her school librarian the "most magical woman on the planet." That’s sweet. No, really, it is. Read her description of the librarian:

"She used to publish little versions of my stories, typing them on manila folders and illustrating them with pictures of me and my teddy bear: T-Bear Goes to Mars and T-Bear’s Trip to the Moon. She was my first mentor—the first person who really took an interest in me for me, which when you’re a kid is a major deal."

How many of you do that for your little patrons? Or even your big patrons? How many of you inspire your library users and help them develop a rich imaginary world? More importantly, how many of you get your picture taken with famous actresses at family gatherings and get profiled in your local newspaper when someone mentions you to Oprah? Not many, I’d bet!

So the happy, feel good questions of the day are: What did you want to be when you grew up? and, much more importantly, What are you doing to inspire the young ones to want to grow up and be a librarian just like you?

I’m not writing much today, because I’m going to spend the rest of the day communing with my inner librarian to figure out how to make my outer librarian as magical and inspirational as possible. Classes begin very soon, and I want all the little kiddies on campus to dream of being librarians when they grow up. Of course, I work at a university, and the kiddies are already more or less grown up, but as we know from experience, it’s never too late to want to be a librarian!

Everyone take care, God bless, and go out and be inspirational!


Contact the AL:



  1. I loved the library growing up. We lived 25 miles from the nearest library but managed to get there once a week. Never thought of being a librarian until working in one in college. And since an English degree is worthless I went on to do that. And sorry to all those trying hard to find jobs but my first was as Assistant Director at a library who paid for me to obtain my MLIS while working. I worked there 5 years and now have been a director for 14 years.

  2. what he said... says:


  3. AL, I find your negativity refreshingly different.

    I don’t know many librarians who went into the professional intentionally. Most are second career or fall-back career people. I think that I could count on one hand the number of librarians I’ve met who planned to enter the profession when they were children or teenagers.

    As for myself, I do it for the money. Provided that you’re working with decent folks, it’s a low-stress job with regular hours. I don’t think that it’s necessary to “believe” in your job, or to see it as a personal mission in order to be good at it. All it takes is a commitment to do the job, and do it well.

    Fighting for causes will lead to nothing but disappointment, regardless of the profession. It’s better to do one’s job well, take the paycheck, and go home.

  4. I wanted to be a professional baseball player. Alas, I couldn’t even hit good high-school pitching.

  5. Auntie Nanuuq says:

    I absolutely detested the High School Librarian…she was an old frustrated elitist dilettante, who played favorites. If you weren’t in her “Great Books” class, then you were frowned upon. I am soooooooooooo Not like her (T.Y.J.).

    I became a librarian because I want to retire at a higher salary level. Now I do it, because I LOVE the kidlets in my storytime! It’s so much fun and they are a hoot! That’s really about all the fun I have at work.

  6. Post Postmodern Librarian says:

    I went into the field because I need a vocation to pay for the 10 years of credit card debt you build up as a history major. Do I find it rewarding not really. I am mostly middle management and library babysitter. This is one of the reasons why I am seeking a second masters and maybe PHD to move on. The good news is I will always have the skills and the ability to fall back on in rough times.

  7. I wanted to be Allan Quartermain. The hunter and explorer – not the incompetent quack on One Life to Live or what not. All my children? Alas – there were nor more lost civilizations. Does anyone even know what I am talking about.

  8. I wanted to be a librarian when I was a kid. Then I wanted to be an artist. Then a family emergency forced me to entertain the prospects of getting a real job, so I became a librarian.

  9. I wanted to be a veterinarian as a child, but then I learned just like a good chef has to break some eggs, a good veterinarian has to dissect some kittens and the interest faded. I only thought about becoming a librarian after completing my undergraduate years and discovering that, as already mentioned, the English lit. degree didn’t count for anything.

    My elementary school librarian had a crazy perm and a short temper. I don’t remember my junior high librarian, but in high school the librarian was a woman of sizable carriage and would have to use the elevator to move between the first and second floors instead of simply taking the stairs. I realize that none of these are good impressions for the profession :/

  10. Pas de Deux ex Machina says:

    I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid, and then I wanted to be a bass player in a band. And now I’m a librarian. I think I could be a bass player and a librarian…

  11. Needs a ''nym says:

    I wanted to be an engineer, but I had a messy breakdown. Friends and family convinced me that meds were a scam, so I ended up with a worthless liberal arts degree.

    After years of crap service jobs, I got medicated and was lured into librarianship by the promise of an intellectually stimulating career and a personnel shortage.

    I think I’ve finally learned to stop trusting people.

  12. I most certainly did not want to be a librarian when I was kid. My mother is also a librarian, so being the good daughter I am, I tried everything I could to run from the inevitable. But in spite of my best efforts, I am, in fact, turning into my mother. Not always a happy thought, but there you have it.

  13. NotMarianTheLibrarian says:

    Definitely did not want to be a librarian growing up. I began working in a library to pay for college and, when original aspirations didn’t pan out, decided I liked my co-workers enough to stay in LibraryLand. But I got the MLIS so I could earn more money. The work can be demanding – first-year students have a lot more energy than this 50+ year-old – but I like it and it isn’t particularly stressful.

  14. NotMarianTheLibrarian says:

    Forgot to add AL that I often find you inspirational. You dare say things that others won’t, certainly not ALA or institutions/faculty that grant MLIS degrees.

  15. I was too busy “being” to want to be anything when I grew up. Then, I grew up, graduated with a MA in English, stumbled into teaching (for want of a job) and promptly began contemplating suicide. Rather than meet the reaper, I earned my ME in library science. (And yes, it is just as good as yours!) To end, I love my job and would not trade it for anything save Hugh Jackman or perpetual wealth.

  16. I stumbled into librarianship after I moved out of a big city and editorial work that I could mostly enjoy. Friends suggested that I could be as ambitious or not in librarianship and that librarianship needed someone like me. It’s been ten years since I got my MSLS. I started in public libraries as a branch manager. Now I’m a branch manager, essentially, in an academic library. It’s been rewarding and nerve-wracking. I think I still miss directly working with children’s books, but I get a chance to review them for the profession, so that worked out pretty well. I’m not living in a glamorous town. I’ve made personal sacrifices to stay this course. But I think it’s been worth it overall. I worry about the future and keeping up with the changes in the field–especially as this is a second career for me. When I was a kid, I wanted to be married. That was the sum total of my aspiration. I dropped out of college 7 times before finally finishing my generic interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree. I zipped my MSLS in 11 months. I’d say I was more motivated by library school than any other professional goal in my 30+ year working life.

  17. I forgot to add that I have inspired and mentored several young college grads and midlife career changers to become librarians, and none of them have looked back. They are enjoying librarianship, too.

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