What’s Stressful in the Library?

College Professors are not terribly happy about having their jobs labeled the least stressful in America. According to Forbes, being a professor is less stressful than being a seamstress. That makes perfect sense to me: I once had to make a jumper in high school home economics. That was stressful, so stressful that it led me to academic dishonesty. I hid the jumper under my shirt, took it home, and had my mom finish it.

The article did make me wonder, though, about the stresses in library work. After questioning my colleagues here at NSCC, I found that most of us like our jobs and don’t find them terribly stressful except for:

  • navigating our purchasing system,
  • helping students with serious problems with papers that require more time than we have to give them,
  • keeping up with technology,
  • having the Jolly Librarian forcing us to answer such questions,
  • printing! (This from a student who happened to be in the library today.), and
  • having to answer the question, “What are you going to do now that Google has made libraries obsolete?”

I guess, on any given day, we experience stress. But no one is going to die because we make a mistake (unless we drop a 20-pound book over the balcony on someone’s head). We still have basic autonomy over how we spend our time.  While there are external pressures on us (in the form of funding, for example) we also have the ability to find new and creative ways to ensure that students receive the academic help they need.

I’m sure if asked, the library staff would like more pay and more vacation, but, in general, we like how we earn that money and how we spend our days. Not enough people get to say that.

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