Recognizing Burnout (and What to Do about it)

The recent American Libraries “Will’s World” column struck a chord with me.  “Your Mileage May Vary” deals, in a facetious way, with the topic he calls “library fatigue,” but more commonly known, I think, as burnout.  Especially among those of use “of a certain age.”

GlassesDo you find yourself thinking any of these, or the other feelings Manley lists?

  • Library patrons are getting increasingly stupid.
  • I’m sick of reading articles by the young technogeek librarians who say the library as we know it is obsolete. So why did they get their MLSes?
  • I’m sick of young whippersnapper librarians just out of library school calling me a dinosaur or a Luddite.
  • I’m sick of the library paying big bucks to a high-powered consultant to tell us which branches to close because we have no money.
  • I’m sick of everything going wrong in the library profession. Why isn’t ALA doing anything about it?

I agree with Manley that the hypothetical 55 year old librarian who feels this way needs to retire.  What I love about Manley’s article is the point that another librarian, of the very same age, and new to the profession, may be able to say:

  • I love adapting to new technology and introducing it to people who do not own a computer.
  • I love children and I love dealing with their parents to develop lifelong library users
  • I love taking on the challenge of finding win-win solutions for problems at the circulation desk.
  • I love dealing with homeless people and turning their lives around.
  • I love showing Tea Party people how productive their library tax dollars are.

And of course, the second librarian need not, and should not retire.

It’s not always this easy, of course, but I wish that the librarians with the former attitudes (and yes, they are out there) would recognize it, and make the right decision.  And I hope that those with the latter attitudes would stay and make their libraries and our profession shine.  (Of course, if you’re reading my blog, you’re not one of those with burnout, or library fatigues, right?)

Photo © 2011 Keith Williamson,  Flickr.   http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
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This entry was posted in Burnout, Customer Service, Library Funding, Library in Community, Public Libraries, Retirement and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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