Why Grumpy Cat is My Spirit Animal

Mary Kelly —  April 19, 2013 — 2 Comments

When I read about library work and management advice, I am always a bit amused at the rosy tone projected in some articles.

I call B.S.

No one working in any kind of public service needs that kind of crap muddling up their head.  I love being a librarian.  It is a great job, I feel that I am contributing to a greater good, and I am proud to be a librarian.  However, not every day is sunshine and roses.  If you meet such a person that thinks it is great 24/7, ask them what meds they are taking.  There isn’t a person out there in library land who hasn’t endured a rude, ungrateful patron and then looked at their paycheck thinking “this is so not worth it.”

I also bet everyone in library service has encountered the outraged guy with the ten cent fine who says, “I am a taxpayer. You work for me!” Or how about the person that says, “it must be fun to get paid to read all day.”  This is just how the job works.  I am a public servant.

The reality is that you cannot feel positive all of the time.  You can’t be sweet and forgiving every minute of every day.  Accept that there will be ebbs and flows to your daily work.  Being a positive light force every minute of every day will eventually kill you and your love of library work.  Balance is the key.

Here are some tips to keep your Grumpy Cat in check:

  • Accept that there will be times that nothing goes right.
  • Recognize that everyone, including patrons, have bad days.
  • Support your co-workers when they are having difficulty coping.  Offer help (and mean it).  Forgive slights when work stress is piling up.
  • Complain and share woes with other library people.  They will understand.
  • Take breaks and use vacation time.  It really does help.  Managers should help employees that are on the front lines recognize the necessity of time away from the fracas.

Now pass me another cocktail so I can live to serve another day.

Mary Kelly


Co-founder of awfullibrarybooks.net and library utility player. Lover of: library data, spreadsheets, collection quality, cats and cardigans. Follow me on twitter @librarymary40

2 responses to Why Grumpy Cat is My Spirit Animal

    Michelle Frost April 19, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Great advice! I may print the bullet list and post it at my desk. I’ve had ten cents thrown at me while the patron told me they were paying my wages, so I can relate to this post quite well.

    That said, if a library patron happens upon this, here is a list for them:

    – Although you may pay taxes which support the library, that doesn’t mean you have to treat library employees like dirt. We are people, too.

    – Recognize that library employees also have bad days. Equipment breaks down, computers are slow, books are lost and/or damaged, medical emergencies happen, vandals make messes, etc.

    – Support your librarians and library staff. A nice smile, a thank you, a comment card singing praise of a staff member or a program, a letter of support to elected officials, flowers, and food are all welcome.

    – If you have a complaint about the library or staff, share it with them. Don’t denigrate them in public forums without giving them a chance to make it right, first.

    – Give librarians and staff a break. You are asking reference questions that take time to research, meanwhile the phone is ringing, e-mails are pinging, patrons are at the desk with computer problems, overdue fines, and requesting help with the printer. Be patient and realize that if it takes a librarian more than a Google second to answer your request, it’s because they are making sure that the information that they give you is fair, accurate, and reliable.



    I love this partially because other librarians regularly ask me what meds I’m on and partially because all of this is so true.

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