Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Librarian Among the Least Stressful Jobs?

Librarian, with a median salary of $54,500, is one of "The 10 Least Stressful Jobs for 2013," reported CNBC.com last week. How did the news site come to this conclusion? Based on information provided by CareerCast, which just released its annual list of the "Least Stressful Jobs of 2013."

Giles wouldn't necessarily agree that librarian is a low-stress job. 
Image via http://www.quirkbooks.com.

According to CareerCast, what makes a job "least stressful"? Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast.com, told CNBC.com, "These are jobs where people are in control of their day. You don't have somebody kind of breathing over your shoulder. There's no physical risk at all, and no one is depending on you in your job to make their life expectancy longer!" He added, "These are the jobs that keep your blood pressure nice and low."

Speaking about the job of librarian, which came in at #9 on the list, Lee said, "You're working in a comfortable environment. Your job is to help people use services as best as possible. Given the environment, stress levels are low." He asked, "What's the most stressful thing a librarian faces? Teenagers with a paper due and you don't have the books." CNBC.com further noted "there are mandatory 'quiet' rules in libraries and you're surrounded by books."

I'm guessing that neither CNBC.com nor Tony Lee visited a big-city public library before they made their assessment. Despite "quiet rules," it's tough to find a truly quiet spot in your typical public library situated in an urban (or even large suburban) neighborhood. The librarians on duty are often too exasperated or overstretched to enforce these "quiet rules," instead dealing with other issues, such as homeless people and child molesters wandering among the stacks. Or they're diffusing increasingly volatile situations involving mentally ill or violent patrons. And they're doing all this (and more) on a salary that barely allows them to pay their rent. This doesn't sound like a "least stressful" job to me.

Rita Meade agrees with me. She responded to the CNBC.com article in a post published on ScrewyDecimal.com. In her post, titled "5 Reasons Being a Librarian Is Stressful," subtitled "Librarians and Stress: An Anecdotal Study (a.k.a. Not cool, CNBC. Not cool.)," Meade explains why librarians aren't "all just floating on clouds made of sugar, leisurely reading books while basking in the glow of constant patron compliments." Listing reasons ranging from lack of job security to lack of respect, she subverts Lee's assertion that librarian is a low-stress job.

"You're wrong," she tells Tony Lee. "Just plain wrong. I don't want a ticker tape parade for librarians. I don't want accolades. I'm not even asking for higher pay (although that WOULD be nice because I am not making anywhere near the 'median salary' CNBC reported). I just want the media to stop feeding the erroneous assumptions."

To read Rita Meade's entire rebuttal to the CNBC.com piece, go HERE.

PS. I just want to say that public librarians aren't the only kind of librarians. Perhaps those who work in museum libraries or who are employed at radio stations, like NPR, do have lower-stress jobs.

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