DAFUQ You Say to Me?: CNBC Calls Librarian one of the 10 Least Stressful Jobs for 2013

Oh, stock photo of a librarian. Nobody gets me like you do.
Oh, stock photo of a librarian. Nobody gets me like you do.

I should really never click on anything library-related in a non-librarian publication, because it’s always written by someone who’s maybe only seen stock photos of libraries and not actually even been in a library since they were nine. CNBC called the job of a librarian as one of the least stressful for 2013, saying:

“You’re working in a comfortable environment. Your job is to help people use services as best as possible. Given that environment, stress levels are low,” Lee said. “What’s the most stressful thing a librarian faces? Teenagers with a paper due and you don’t have the books. It’s not really your stress,” Lee said.

Plus, there are mandatory “quiet” rules in libraries and you’re surrounded by books.

Books don’t talk back or criticize the job you’re doing!

You know, I was gonna bash back all angry-like, and talk about how my jobs isn’t about books, you stupid-head, it’s about people and public service. Then I was going to get all, “Yeah, teen. You can’t find a book for your stupid report? NOT MY PROBLEM! Bring me another Mai Tai!” But you know, I’ve thought about it. If anything, CNBC’s mindless list, complete with banal and stereotype-based blurbs, is nothing if not thought-provoking. I’ve realized my job as a children’s/YA librarian in an large urban setting is kinda like being in a spa. Thank you, CNBC!

OK, I’ve never actually been to a spa (just like the person who wrote this has never been to a library), but really. My day to day stuff at work is pretty relaxing. So please, if you find that any of the following lowers your stress level, you should absolutely become a librarian (provided you can find any actual job openings out there!).

  • The soothing sound of screaming toddlers, wailing infants, and teenagers mellowly yelling out the N-word. Why, what’s that moaning in the background? It’s a drunk man who’s passed out in the doorway! Call 911!spa
  • People threatening to lay you off every six months. Hurrah! Nothing’s been better for my complexion, peace of mind, mental health, sleeping and eating habits, and personal relationships than a lack of library funding and the occasional pink slip. Budget? SCHMUDGET! Yeah, so what if we’re understaffed because we have 200+ vacancies we can’t afford to fill? So what if hundreds of my coworkers and I don’t have job stability? So what if I’m spending all my free time advocating to keep libraries open instead of having a life of my own? One day, you’re living stress-free in your library, next you’re dipping your feet in the cool, calming waters of unemployment! sunset
  • Children’s programming! When I want to relax, I simply gather a group of 30 or so 18 month olds and try to keep their attention for half an hour. When I really want to turn up those zen vibes, I hang out with a class of 40 9th graders and teach them how to do research! Bliss.


  • Nothing makes me sigh like a smug, contented little jerk than sexual harassment at the reference desk. Thanks for considering me part of your dating pool, good sir. Your unwanted advances make the stress just melt away. ocean
  • Summer Reading. I mean, even the words themselves are relaxing. Summer. Reading. Summer. Reading. We like both these words separately, right? Well put them together and you’ve created an intoxicating combination of demanding patrons, endless lines, being on your feet non-stop, visits from massive summer camps, and tackling baffling teacher lists. Those tears you’re crying yourself to sleep in? They’re great for detoxifying pores.
Summer Reading? I'll drink to that!
Summer Reading? I’ll drink to that!

Blah, blah, blah. It should be said that I actually do love my job and given the choice, there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing (other than working in a panda playground). Also, having family members who have served in the Army and who currently work in hospitals, I think I know what a real stressful job looks like (and mine doesn’t even come close in comparison). So I’m just being a bit of an ass to point out that librarians are a bunch of hard-working peeps, and I wouldn’t recommend becoming a librarian if you think it involves talking to books and ignoring teen patrons all day.

I would, however, like to see this “quiet”  library that CNBC speaks of.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

P.S. My condolences to hair-dressers and college professors, who also made this list. Dude, that shit doesn’t look easy either.

22 thoughts on “DAFUQ You Say to Me?: CNBC Calls Librarian one of the 10 Least Stressful Jobs for 2013

  1. Michele

    ANY job that involves working with the public in a customer service capacity every day is inherently stressful. Certainly not one of the top 10, but doubtfully one of the bottom 10, either.

  2. marcia

    As an elementary school librarian, I do get to relax during the summer, and my job is pretty secure. The real fun is trying to do the job of a teacher while also fulfilling the job of librarian. The absolutely most Zen part of my life is trying to teach pedagogically sound lessons that include engagement, instruction, modeling, gradual release of responsibility, assessment, and reflection. In 35-40 minutes. To kindergartners. All of whom have to pee. And then book check out!

  3. Magpielibrarian…. You have a wicked sense of humor and I totally enjoyed reading this blog. I’m a teacher-librarian in an urban PreK-8 school and I sometimes think people think my job is so easy (I’m not in the classroom with 30 kids all day, right?). Well, they are wrong!

  4. Shannon

    Ha! I laughed outloud at the thought of relaxing to the sounds of 30 18month olds whose attention span has just given out. I am with you that it is not as stressful as the army, but it is def. more stressful than many people think!

  5. Mama Cat

    Amen and hallelujah sister! I always have to laugh when patrons ask if I am a volunteer or say what a nice peaceful job I must have. Little do they know, the blood, sweat and tears that go into offering so many programs and such good service. And when my administration says they are not asking us to do more with less, I get downright crazy. Stress? Bah Humbug!

    1. Luckily, when people see I work in the Youth Wing, they see how crazed my job can be. But when people just hear that I’m a librarian, they assume some sort of dusty book atmosphere.
      I hope your patrons appreciate the blood, sweat, and tears you sacrifice to be a good librarian and to be good to your community.

  6. CybrarianJenn

    I am now officially a fan of your blog. ;-). I’m a high school librarian. Yes, I will absolutely admit that my job is less stressful than the classroom where I spent 8 years. However, I would love to swap jobs for a day with anyone that thinks I sit around reading books, playing games on my iPad, and have time to chat with every single student and staff member that stops by. I used to think multitasking was doing two maybe three things at once. Ha! Try 10!

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  8. Tama Filipas

    This past Sunday our door counter coughed up the number 852 as the number of people in (and out) of my library. In 5 hours. And we thought it was a slower than normal Sunday.

  9. Anything that involves talking to or dealing with other people all day is stressful. But I do have some nice non-stressful moments like: when a cute wittle baby lets me hold her and she gives me wet sloppy drool bites on my chin. Or when preK students hug me for finding their books and senior citizens say “Bless you” when you find their books anda reformed thug swoops you up into a swinging hug because you found the last copy of the Art of War in the whole building. All true stories. I’m over 200 lbs. I give props to skinny reformed thug for swinging me around. 🙂

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  11. Gigi

    Thank you for this. I am about to lose my mind over here in a large branch of a large urban library system! I needed to know I wasn’t crazy and that I wasn’t alone!

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