“Does the job end when you go home?”: A few thoughts

Does the job end when you get home? Like Annoyed Librarian says, this “depends on the type of work” you do as a librarian. Catalogers can’t bring their work home with them, but librarians who have faculty status at their university might not be able to leave work at work. And, as AL points out, “systems librarians are sometimes always on call.” If you are well-known as a librarian in your community, people might seek your help outside of the library.

Aside from your required work, and the work you do as prompted by others, you might still be working late into the night on library-related projects. AL says, “It also depends on the impact you want to make on the profession. Do you want to be a mover and a shaker, or do you want to remain in happy obscurity? There’s no shame in obscurity, but moving an shaking requires work outside of the library, or longer hours within the library.” AL makes a good point. You can be a great librarian at work and then leave everything behind until you come back the next day. But if you want to make a big impact on your library and perhaps even the profession, you have to dedicate extra time to your efforts. Maybe you write articles, hold professional discussion groups online, or spend an extra few hours making sure your library programs are above average. You might spend your weekends reading the latest graphic novels so you can recommend them to your teens when they stop by. Maybe you give your contact information to students so they can get paper help late at night.

But you don’t have to do this. You can love your job, and still go home and hang out with your gamer friends. Maybe you would rather be hiking than reading the newest best seller. Your cooking blog might take precedence over your librarian Twitter account. I don’t think leaving the job at the job makes a librarian any less of a professional. In fact, I think having a group of librarians with diverse interests makes the workplace that much better. Like “Happily Obscure” says in the comments: “I spent the first few years of my career feeling like I had to publish, had to speak at conferences, had to have a blog, etc. in order to be a ‘good’ school librarian. I realize now that being a librarian is my job, and not my passion. I do the best job I can when I’m at work. I care about my students and their education, and I do everything I can to contribute. But when I go home, I’m done. And that’s okay.” She’s absolutely right – it is okay. Making time for the rest of your life – friends, family, and hobbies – keeps you balanced, both personally and professionally. As a new professional, I often struggle to balance my ambitions with reality – I have so much I want to do as a person and as an archivist/librarian. I need to remind myself sometimes that I don’t have to do it all right now. Hopefully as I settle into my professional career, I’ll find that balance.

What do you think? Does the job end when you get home?

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