Monthly Archives: July 2011

Sorry, I’m booked.

A weird and obscure fact about yours truly is that I love weird and obscure facts. I like finding out new facts, researching to see if they are true, and then sharing them. You can find me in bookstore skimming through a book about Texas oddities, watching a program about unexplainable phenomena, or browsing the internet for trivia. About thirty minutes before typing this, I was doing the latter. I was reading one hundred facts about the human brain.

Hidden in the long list of facts was a curious little tidbit about stress. Oh, I also now know the number of times the word “brain” appears in Shakespeare’s plays. I’m not going to spoil things by telling you. That’s one of those facts you will be better off researching and finding on your own. It will change your life. Well, maybe not, but each time a person has a new thought, a new connection is created in the brain. So technically, by learning something new, it could change you for the better.

Back to the “tidbit”. The list I read said headaches caused by job-related stress were most commonly had by accountants. The job with the second most amount of stress headaches was – and this is where I was stunned – librarian! Seriously? And being a librarian out-ranked being a truck driver as far as stress was concerned. I could not be offered enough money to be a truck driver, but I would love being a librarian!

I thought about this a little more. Yeah, I still didn’t get it; I started researching. I could not believe there was supporting evidence. BBC News ran a piece a few years ago about a study done of three hundred people from five occupations. Librarians even out-ranked police officers and fire fighters based upon nine different stress factors. Wow! I wonder what a firefighter would say if I showed him or her that study. After the laughing stopped, maybe the response would be, “That’s hilarious… good one, Haycomet!”

I have even given thought to being a librarian. I found a job posting for one and looked at the requirements. Surely I was qualified, right? I have a high school diploma, an associate’s degree, and a love for books and organization. I, however, was NOT qualified! A four-year degree in library science was required – not desired – required! There is really a degree for that? And it takes four years? Libraries don’t even have the big card catalogs anymore! Tracking down a book is as easy as using a search engine now.

Other than people, what is stressful about a library? I love the variety of books, the quiet, the smell, and the organization! If I want to go to some place to wander around and just be quiet, I can go to the library. I grew up in a town that had a library in a small trailer (it wasn’t even a double-wide). Our library could have fit in the cargo area of an 18-wheeler. I prefer medium-sized libraries, but in Texas, people won’t settle for small and quaint. To the east of my house there is a library that is way too big. I have to walk a block and a half to get from fiction to reference materials, yet it doesn’t even contain most of the books I want. I go to the modest library to the west. The one with lots of windows in the back and trees outside; I can sit in a comfy chair by the window and read. See, nothing stressful about that. Even if I worked there, I would think it is peaceful. Sure, there would be normal everyday work stuff to handle, but would it be worse than what a police officer experiences? I highly doubt it.

The complaints from librarians are simple. Basically it breaks down to this: they’re bored! They despise being confined between bookshelves all day. They don’t like the general repetition either. During the four years of earning a library science degree, were they not advised that they would be in a building working amongst books and stocking shelves… every day? If those common activities cannot be tolerated, they shouldn’t become a librarian in the first place! What kind of bibliophiles are they? I say if they can’t stand working around books, they should just leave it to the prose. Yes… I went there.

I have had a lot of stress in my current job lately, but stress and even repetition cannot be avoided in most jobs. I found it amusing that I searched for a list of the least stressful jobs and librarian was listed there as well. On one of those pages, a librarian left a comment about how she didn’t agree because her job was so very stressful. I still cannot imagine being a librarian and allowing myself to think for a second that my job was more taxing than fighting fires. Well, I guess librarians are just damned if they Dewey and damned if they don’t.

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