Academic journal article Partnership : the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research

Librarianship and the Culture of Busy

Academic journal article Partnership : the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research

Librarianship and the Culture of Busy

Article excerpt

There are not enough hours in a day. We're busy, we're pulled in many directions, our attention is needed on so many issues by so many people, and we're worried about losing our life-balance. This is a fact of life for all of us. This is our environment. Realists know that this is not going away any time soon and that the only solution is to take personal responsibility for managing the busyness of our lives.

This constant state of "busy" has entered the fabric of our daily work culture in ways that are damaging to our organizations. Busyness is an increasingly acceptable way to (misguidedly) self-promote or seek recognition, and is used as an excuse to deflect important work and impede progress. The results are resentment among peers and damage to professional reputations.

Does this situation sound familiar? You are in a meeting, teleconference, or email discussion and need someone to volunteer to do something. Volunteersilence ensues and the battle begins.

"I just can't take that on right now. I have to do A, B, and C. I'm just so busy."

"Tell me about it, I have X, Y, Z to complete."

"Oh, you can't even understand how busy I am?"

"You think that's bad?."

So, the battle of one-upmanship continues, taking up precious time, detracting from the issues at hand and increasingly stopping progress in its tracks. Librarians engage in this battle for superiority, based not on individual accomplishments, we're far too modest for that, but rather on one's "volume of busy". The point of this battle is to prove that we do more and have less free time than our peers, and are thus more important. We have so much on our plates, we cannot possibly take on another thing, so we are increasingly forgiven from additional contribution by nature of our busy excellence.

We need to change this. We need to assume that all of our colleagues are busy, productive, and professionally engaged people and stop the dialogue of busy as a badge of honour. Bemoaning your busy state or seeking stress-sympathy with a colleague for a moment of stress-reduction in an offline conversation is exceedingly normal. Constantly doing so in work situations is unprofessional and shows lack of respect for your colleagues' contributions. When you complain about being busy, you simply look like someone who wants to complain. When you use how busy you are as a constant excuse or topic of professional conversation, you are not gaining anyone's respect or admiration, you are simply giving permission for others to exhibit similar behaviour by making it acceptable in your workplace culture. …

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