janitorial librarian

Doesn’t matter whether it’s public or academic libraries, when it rains it pours, right?

Had this “all hands” meeting today wherein all library staff and faculty meet and catch each other up about the mundane and profane happenings in the library.

The news was that until September 1 we have no custodial coverage in the evening so if a spill bothers you, clean it up. One of our staff procures a mop and mop bucket from the custodial powers-that-be who run that department for the university. However, we don’t have to clean up anything; not in anybody’s job description, not even “other duties as assigned.”

It’s on hand only if we’re inclined to clean up a mess. If a mess throws your OCD out of whack, or you are the worrisome type concerned that a student might slip, break a bone, and sue the university, well, then, you ought to clean up a mess.

Custodial powers-that-be offered a tip to our library staff person who procured these cleaning implements just in case of disaster:

Getting coffee spills out of the carpet: Saturate rag with hot water and then blot the spill with the hot rag and that lifts the stain from the carpet.

But then someone in our meeting asked a great question:

Do we have rags?

Um. No.

So we rally. We problem solve by discussing all the rags we can bring from home to solve this problem. This problem that exists because we are not properly funded by our university or the Tennessee Board of Regents. We spend valuable time talking about rags in our meeting. Almost thirty people sitting in a meeting wherein rags were the topic of discussion. And your tax dollars pay for this because your tax dollars don’t fully fund us.

So which is better?

Fully funding us so that we have custodial staff cleaning the library am and pm?


Not funding us, so that we spend our time talking about bringing rags from work to home, making us supplement this deficient with our own tax dollars and dealing with this failure when instead we could be solving REAL PROBLEMS that affect your children and their education by providing better service for them, especially since we didn’t earn degrees in custodial and information services.

The point is that this relates to Ingrid Abrams’ post from yesterday wherein she calls it quits with the library. It’s just too exhausting. It’s a fantastic post that every librarian should read. I’ve been there. Done that. I used to over-identify with my job, really give it my all. And now I barely give a ____. I’m more interested in my life outside of the library, now. But, her last paragraph is really powerful, and I’ll quote it here, but do go read everything she wrote, because it chronicles her efforts in library advocacy which are quite remarkable. And, actually, it’s really sad to consider that the profession and libraries as organizations are losing the people who, comprise its core identity.

I’m not going to martyr myself for the library anymore. Sure, I’ll be here. I’ll be a librarian who always tries to go above and beyond, but I’m not going to sacrifice as much as I used to. I used to give up way more of my time to outside-work-hours library work, but that’s got to stop. I’m out of energy and my stockpile of hope is running extra low.

And, as it turns out, even happier news, (thanks Ingrid!) Forbes named the MLS the No. 1 worst degree. Ha triple Ha.

2 thoughts on “janitorial librarian

  1. Just to be clear, I’m not quitting the library. I’m quitting being a full time library advocate in addition to my job. Thanks for sharing, though!
    I used to clean up REALLY gross things in my library. Other times, I left it and put up caution tape. No joke.

  2. i should have been more clear in my writing that you weren’t quitting the library, but that you were ramping down your advocacy. i read it correctly, but i misrepresented you here, so sorry.totally my bad. OH the caution tape is a great idea. must invest.

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