According to a study being presented at a society conference in Glasgow, librarians have a very stressful job. Some excerpts from the BBC article:
The study surveyed nearly 300 people drawn from five occupations.
They were firefighters, police officers, train operators, teachers and librarians and were intended to cover the spectrum, with the librarians first-thought to be the least stressful occupation.
Librarians are the most unhappy with their workplace, often finding their job repetitive and unchallenging, according to psychologist Saqib Saddiq.
Librarians complained about their physical environment, saying they were sick of being stuck between book shelves all day, as well as claiming their skills were not used and how little control they felt they had over the career.
They were also more likely than other professions to be absent from work.
I’d love to see the full study, and I’d also be interested in knowing where they got these librarians. I’d have to agree that I’m stressed at times, but it’s not a result of my job being “repetitive and unchallenging.” Like many librarians, I’m wearing many hats (over my tied-up in a bun hair style) and juggling dozens of flaming swords (while trying not to drop one on my comfortable brown shoes), so my job is almost never the same from day to day. And that’s what I love about being a librarian. I’m not stuck in the shelves, and working with patrons, technology, new databases, limited funds, and librarian stereotypes definitely makes my work challenging and very rewarding.
How severe is my stress as a librarian? Honestly, it’s not bad at all. I love my job, and I can leave work at work. That’s one of the best things about my job is that when I go home, my time belongs to my family. I’m not thinking about my job or worrying about the next day. However, when that next day comes, I’m excited to meet the challenges and stresses of the day.
Is stress always a bad thing? Understandably, stress gets a bad rep for causing all those heart attacks, high blood pressure, strokes, ulcers, and other health problems. However, some manageable stress, when dealt with appropriately, might actually be good for you. I’ve always been of a mindset that if you don’t have just a little bit of stress, you’re probably bored and not pushing yourself enough. I’m taking a spinning class this quarter every Friday at 6:30 a.m., and I believe the act of spinning can relate to this issue pretty well. In the spinning class, the instructor tells you to pedal your bike harder or faster, but in the end, you control the resistance. The instructor really has no idea how hard you are really working. In other words, while everyone else is really working hard, you could be coasting along. However, if you just coast, you’re not going to get the same benefits out of the bicycle that others are. You have to work hard enough to keep things interesting in the spin class (and in your job) while also keeping yourself under control (that is, don’t pedal so hard you pass out –or worse). That hard work and little bit of stress can help you grow. After this morning’s class, my legs are pretty sore, and I know they’ll still be a little tender over the weekend. However, I know that next week’s challenging class will be just a bit easier, since I pushed myself pretty hard this morning.
In terms of job satisfaction, you can make your work more challenging and more rewarding by taking on additional responsibilities. Now I don’t know the whole story nor do I know the librarians in the Glasgow study, but I imagine they could be doing more on their end to make their jobs more satisfying. I realize that we all are trying to do a lot of different duties with very little time, so folks may think I’m crazy for suggesting taking on more duties to be happier at work. If you’re bored, maybe taking on new responsibilities is the answer. If you’re overworked and stressed, perhaps changing how you perform those duties could make your daily tasks a little more satisfying. Or maybe if you do the same thing everyday, change the order in which you do things.
Legal Disclaimer: The preceding information is the opinion of Chad Boeninger, author of Library Voice. Chad is a librarian, not a doctor, psychologist, or personal trainer. Always check with your physician before starting any exercise program and check with your supervisor before taking on additional stress-inducing responsibilities 😉 .
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