Magazine article American Libraries

Survey Says Librarians Rank Low in Stress. Hel-Lo?

Magazine article American Libraries

Survey Says Librarians Rank Low in Stress. Hel-Lo?

Article excerpt

Librarians may have poor job prospects but their duties are not very stressful, according to a new book that rates jobs by six criteria: environment, income, outlook, physical demands, security, and stress. Les Krantz, author of the Jobs Rated Almanac (St. Martin's Griffin, 1999), ranks 250 careers by these factors, and when it comes to Stress, U.S. president is at the top; librarian is at the unstressed bottom, along with florist, piano tuner, and appliance repairer.

Maybe its because my experience has been only in public libraries and as a library journalist, or maybe I just don't agree with Krantz's stress-measuring criteria, but this study is way off-base. Don't believe him, library school students and other librarians-to-be, when he says our jobs are cushier than being a Maytag repairman.

Most of Krantz's stress criteria have to do with physical exertion: lifting required, machines or tools used, and "outdoor work," which automatically gets high stress marks. I can't figure it out. Forest ranger looks mighty calm from where I sit.

Still, other criteria should have put librarians at least over the midpoint. Among the nonphysical stress-builders he mentions are deadlines (tell me about it), advocacy, working in the public eye, and meeting the public (the public warranted two separate categories).

You might like to know what some of the jobs are that are more stressful than yours. Well, how about furniture upholsterer. And think of the stress of being a plasterer; it ranks way ahead of librarian. Postal inspector was way out ahead - and I thought their main job was to cause stress. Librarians rank ninth-lowest in job stress, about the same as a bookkeeper. Far less stressful than dishwasher or jeweler.

Making it look easy

I've decided that the reason we rank low in stress it that although our work is tough, we make it look easy. For years we've been able to convince people that being a librarian means sitting around and reading all day, when, in fact, it meant presiding over a nonstop barrage of interpersonal relationships that would drive a psychiatrist (rated high on the stress chart) crazy.

Maybe Krantz doesn't know that we get threatened at knife-point, that public services librarians have to break up fights, ward off violence and vandalism, and smile and react thoughtfully to every sort of mental and social problem. …

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