Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

A Soft Furry Belly for Librarians

Last week the Daily Telegraph reported on a study in Britain that tried to figure out a quantitative monetary comparison for how good some cultural and sporting activities make us feel, because if you can’t put it in terms of money it just doesn’t count.

For example, the highest rated activity, dancing, supposedly makes us feel as good as a pay raise of £1671 pounds (or $2810). I’d feel good if I got a $2810 pay raise, especially if it came every time I felt like dancing, and I’d feel like dancing a lot more if I got that pay raise each time.

Swimming is second. That makes us feel like we got a raise of $2739.

And surprisingly enough, going to a library regularly makes us feel as good as if we got a $2285 pay raise.

I tend to be a little skeptical of studies like this, but lets assume these numbers actually mean something. If so, they explain a lot.

First, they explain why people like libraries.

If they use them regularly, they like them for that reason. If they used them a lot as children, they have those happy memories to keep them going. After all, $2285 might as well be a fortune to a child.

Second, it explains why people want to work in libraries.

If the general public feels so good going to a library regularly, imagine how all the librarians feel, trudging into the library day after day for decades! Every day they have the same feeling as if they’d gotten that pay raise. It must be a good feeling.

Third, and perhaps most important, it explains the salary situation for most librarians.

Librarians don’t make a lot of money, but if we can believe this study, then so what? They don’t need the money when they can get the feeling of getting more money every day without ever actually getting the money.

Just as dancers love to dance and swimmers love to swim, librarians love to go to libraries. To give them the thrill of going to the library every day and paying them more would be overkill. Their low salaries are compensated by the daily joy of the workplace.

Sure, paying bills and having a nice vacation once in a while might be good, but those feelings fade whenever you get a sudden pay boost, and the pay boost feeling lasts as long as librarians keep going to work.

In fact, this could be construed as an excuse to cut librarian pay!

It could follow the logic of one of my favorite Dilbert cartoons. In the cartoon the evil HR representative Catbert tells the group that they can lower their blood pressure by rubbing his “soft furry belly.”

What could go wrong, they wonder? So they rub his belly. Then Catbert screams, “Ha Ha Ha! It’s a health benefit! Now I’ll cut everybody’s salary!”

Feeling so good about going to libraries regularly could be seen as a benefit. For librarians, just showing up to work is like rubbing a soft furry belly.

As far as I can tell, that’s the only thing that can explain this video of dancing librarians (don’t say I didn’t warn you), send in by a Kind Reader.

They must all feel like they’ve just gotten a big pay raise or rubbed a cat’s soft furry belly. Otherwise, the dancing is inexplicable.

Perhaps you’ll feel like that, too, if you watch the video. Myself, I had two reactions.

First, isn’t using that song a violation of copyright?

Second, please, oh please, stop the dancing librarians. I don’t know about the first problem, but the second was easily solved with the close of a browser tab.

I’m feeling better already.



  1. Walter Lessun says:

    AL, you are so right. Closing the dancing tab made me so happy I’m taking the rest of the day off to go canoeing.

  2. The Librarian With No Name says:

    What I find fascinating is the implicit notion that a $2200 pay raise has a fixed happiness effect regardless of your current payscale. Now that I’m working full time in a library, an extra $2200 would be extremely welcome, but three years ago when I was working two minimum-wage jobs and freelancing it’d have represented a major lifestyle change and allowed me to put meat back in my diet.

    If you told Warren Buffett that he’d just made another $2200, he’d almost certainly want to know why you were wasting his time and how you got into his office.

    Then again, I suppose the richer you are, the less good libraries do you. I don’t imagine Warren Buffett spends much time dodging the homeless to borrow a scratched copy of “Avatar.”

    You win this round, British scientists.

  3. All I’m going to say is AL’s logo is an angry cat, so she’s a librarian who has her own soft furry belly.

  4. Yea… dancing around like you are high on speed while also appearing to be on the clock is not an ideal judgment call.

  5. Ann MIller says:

    I was prepared for something painful like book cart competitions, but any time people are dancing at work makes me happy. And there wasn’t an Elaine among them.

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