Tuesday, February 25, 2014

TLC for the Librarian

It's easy sometimes for our work to start showing up in our home life. One discussion thread in our consideration of program breaks had us literally putting on the "brakes". We had some strong things to say about taking care of ourselves:
  • When you are that sole provider of services you have to take some care for you - and breaks can provide that breather, that time to re-charge, re-assess or simply put time into other pressing concerns.  I think alot of us got into library work not just for love of books and reading but also for more altrusitic reasons of helping people, supporting literacy and knowledge in our communities. There is sometimes a tendency to give and give and give without regard for ourselves. That's where burn-out can become a problem - or taking the job home into our lives to "just get a little more done"
  • I have a mandatory rule for myself, that I will look at no emails, texts, NOTHING, regarding work, when I am off.  I was widowed with three children when I began here, and when I got home, demands on my time and attention were high.
  • I am now a newlywed, and though mine are all grown and on their own, my husband deserves more than a burned-out drone each evening/weekend.  I do try to encapsulate the day in the first few minutes we are together again, but then, that is it. 
  • I spent about 3 months of having my work email attached to my personal phone. It was a horrible 3 months of me feeling like I was working all the time. I've always had mixed feelings about work from home. If I put together elaborate felt boards and plan programs and prep crafts on my own time, am I not giving our patrons a false sense of the value of their tax dollars? Will they come to expect a level of programming that is not financially sustainable and realistic? 
  • I think that when we volunteer our time to our careers, we are not giving our boards and communities a realistic idea of what it takes in  expenses and staff time to do our jobs. We also set up unrealistic expectations about what we actually do for our paid time. 
  • You made a very important point about taking time for your family. Because my husband is usually pretty busy, when he is home I try to not do any work at home.  It is amazing though how ideas will just pop up in your head while taking showers, etc. I commute and often ideas/work-related issues just pop up.  The only bad thing is I can't write them down while driving! (note: here someone suggested calling yourself and leaving a message on your phone!)
  • This is always hard one for me. I like to put on a high quality program so I would keep adding to the program up to the day of the program. But it became stressful for me and I took work home with me often because I wanted to have everything done just right and I enjoyed too alot of the hands on work. I had to let go and delegate jobs to other co-workers, call library volunteers and lighten up. For me the balance is it's okay to have a good program instead of a GREAT program and not me such a perfectionist. It's better to have a happy, fun loving children's librarian than a nervous up tight one.
How about you? Can you leave work at work and make time for yourself?
Image: '75/365 Hugs are Healing'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/34415916@N07/4439563089 Found on flickrcc.net


  1. This is a great discussion and so important to have! Ultimately different people have different comfort levels with taking work home. I'm currently adjusting some of my plans at work to accommodate my own changing feelings on this topic. Thanks for this, group!

  2. This is THE HARDEST LESSON to learn. I absolutely agree with all that's been said here, and want to chime in that I'm still learning how to set my boundaries, too. But it's important work to do! Thanks for the post!